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Relations with Iran, Russia will not affect ties with US: Egyptian presidency

Presidential spokesman says that the United States considers Egypt a strategic ally in the region

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Apr 2013
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A spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency stated on Wednesday that the United States is keen to improve bilateral relations, as it considers Egypt a strategic ally in the region.

In a press conference held on Wednesday morning in Cairo, spokesman Ehab Fahmy made it clear that forging relations with Russia or Iran will not have a negative impact on relations with the United States.

"Egypt has a role in the stability of the region and the United States understands this completely," said Fahmy.

"Egypt aspires to have balanced relations and this is why Egypt is building relations with Iran," said Fahmy, adding that these relations are based on mutual respect and interest as well as agreeing not to interfere in the internal issues of both countries.

Fahmy also hinted that one of the main pillars of Egyptian policy is to preserve Egyptian identity, and that Egypt will not be affected by the visits of Iranian tourists.

In March, the Iranian government cancelled visa requirements for Egyptian tourists after a bilateral tourism agreement signed in February.

On 1 April, more than 50 Iranian tourists - the first official group to visit Egypt for tourism for decades - arrived in Upper Egypt amid tight security.

The cooperation between Cairo and Shia-majority Iran caused outrage among some ultra-conservative Sunni groups in Egypt. Dozens of protesters attempted to storm the residence of the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Cairo earlier this month to show their opposition to the move. The programme to encourage tourism was temporarily suspended after the protests.

Fahmy also added that the restoration of relations with Iran will not be at the expense of relations with the Gulf countries.

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