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Egypt's Morsi 'did not discuss boosting ties with Iran'

President Mohamed Morsi made no mention of possible resumption of diplomatic ties with Iran during his recent visit to the Islamic republic, says presidential spokesman

AFP , Sunday 2 Sep 2012
Egypt & Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, flashes during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi, left, at the sideline of the Nonaligned Movement, NAM, summit, in Tehran, Iran, on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (Photo: AP)
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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made no mention of resuming ties with Iran during his visit to Tehran last week, his spokesman Yassir Ali said on Sunday, denying statements by Iranian officials.

"The meeting between President Mohamed Morsi and his Iranian counterpart [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad did not broach the subject of boosting the level of representation or of opening an embassy," said Ali, quoted by state-owned daily Al-Ahram.

Morsi's attendance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran last Thursday was the first time an Egyptian head of state had set foot in Iran since the two countries broke off diplomatic ties in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution there.

They have since maintained special-interests sections in their respective capitals.

According to Ali, the two leaders agreed to hold "more dialogue to examine common affairs, including regional issues."

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told Iran's Arabic-language satellite television channel Al-Alam that Morsi and Ahmadinejad had discussed the Syrian conflict and their severed diplomatic ties when they met on Thursday.

The Islamic republic had several times sought to normalise relations with Egypt since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Morsi hails from Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood and says he is seeking broader relationships in the Middle East, including with Tehran. But he has so far reacted with caution to Iran's overtures.

In recent weeks, the conflict in Syria has given Morsi the chance to reach out to Iran.

The Egyptian leader invited Tehran to attend a contact group meeting with Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – three countries favourable to regime change in Damascus.

During the NAM summit, Morsi slammed Bashar Al-Assad's regime as "oppressive" and said it "had lost its legitimacy."

According to his spokesman, Morsi stressed to his Iranian counterpart that Arab opinion did not accept "support for the Syrian regime," the official MENA news agency reported.

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