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Egypt-Iran trade could reach $30 bn in 10 years: Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Ahmadinejad says he seeks to build strong relations with Egypt following a decades-long severance of ties

Ahmed Eleiba, Wednesday 13 Feb 2013
Ahmadinejad
Egyptian Presidency, Mohammed Morsi, right, embraces Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left (Photo: AP)
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The Egyptian and Iranian people share many historical links dating from the dawn of humanity, in their shared quest for justice and dignity, said Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with the press on the sidelines of an Islamic summit in Cairo last week.

"Now, it is incumbent upon both countries to establish such principles by means of unity and cohesion."   

The leader of Shia Iran deemed his visit to Egypt--the first since Tehran's 1979 Islamic revolution--"infinitely precious."

"The alliance between Cairo and Tehran is in the interests of both the Egyptian and Iranian people," he said, adding that he had hoped to sit with members of the public during his stay in order to exchange visions, but was not able to.

In his meeting with Egyptian reporters, Ahmadinejad applauded the Islamic summit in Cairo and the issues tackled, extending thanks to Egyptian president for hosting what he called a "historic visit."

Ahmadinejad told Ahram Online: "Ties between Iran and Egypt are strong and prosperous. Despite long years of estrangement, our reverence and respect for Egypt and the Egyptian people have not been affected."

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Egypt followed Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Iran in August for the summit.

When asked by Ahram Online about prospects of bolstering economic ties with Egypt, given that total trade volume between both countries stands at a modest $331 million, the Iranian president said that the figure does not reflect the significance of both countries and the potential for economic exchange.

According to Ahmadinejad, Iranian investment in the UAE stands at some $16 billion, with $20 billion investment in Turkey and as much as $40 billion in other countries.

The Iranian president speculated that future economic cooperation with Egypt will be between $20-30 billion in ten years time including trade, investment and tourism.

The Iranian president went on to say that many non-aligned countries have considerable economic potential and opportunities for investment.

Iran took over from Egypt as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit which was held in Tehran in last August.

The Iranian president proposed cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education, technology and tourism, and suggested that Egypt would be an ideal destination for the 8 million Iranian tourists who travel abroad each year.

He also stressed that both countries seek to cement diplomatic ties and re-open embassies, adding that Egyptian tourists and businesspeople will be able to enter Iran visa-free.

The Iranian president also urged an end to the Syrian crisis, calling upon Egypt and Turkey, both supporters of the Syrian opposition, to mediate between the country's warring sides. "The government that seeks to assume authority via war will never establish peace."

Ahmadinejad also dismissed reports of disagreements with Al-Azhar University, Egypt's Sunni religious establishment, as widely reported by Egyptian media.

"Our common denominators are wide. Even the differences might create a favourable environment for cooperation."

Ahmadinejad, who was on a three-day visit to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo last week, is the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since diplomatic relations were broken off in 1980, a year after Tehran's revolution and Egypt's peace treaty  with Israel.

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