Egypt says Iran ties will not undermine Gulf security

AFP, Tuesday 26 Apr 2011

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf who is currently touring Gulf countries has vowed that Egypt's improving relationship with Iran will not adversely affect Gulf security

Visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Tuesday vowed that his country's possible ties with Iran will not undermine security of oil-rich Arab states in the Gulf.

"If we have to open a (new) page with Iran... it will not undermine the security of the Gulf states because the security of Gulf states is important to us and Egypt's national security," the premier told reporters.

Sharaf arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday for a two-day official visit as part of his first Gulf tour that kicked-off from Saudi Arabia and will include Qatar.

Relations between the Sunni-ruled Arab states in the Gulf and non-Arab predominantly Shiite Iran strained following a crackdown on protests in Bahrain led by the tiny kingdom's Shiit majority.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi asked Egypt on Saturday to take a "courageous step" towards renewing diplomatic ties which Tehran broke in 1980 over Cairo's recognition of Israel.

Earlier this month, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi declared Cairo was ready to open a "new page" with Tehran.

"The Egyptian and Iranian people deserve relations which reflect their history and civilisation, provided they are based on mutual respect of state sovereignty and non-interference of any kind in internal affairs," he said.

The Egyptian premier denied strained relations with the United Arab Emirates which he was expected to visit during the current tour. He said the UAE visit clashed with a visit to Sinai and had to be postponed.

He said he planned to visit the UAE, Bahrain and Oman.

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