Egypt, Iran to discuss new ties next month: FM

AFP, Wednesday 27 Apr 2011

Egyptian Foreign Minister will discuss with his Iranian counterpart next month how to open a new chapter in bilateral relations

Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said Wednesday he will meet his Iranian counterpart next month and discuss how to open a new chapter in relations between the two nations which have been turbulent for more than 30 years.

"I will meet with Ali Akbar Salehi in Indonesia on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned summit next month and discuss the next steps in our relationship," Arabi said in a statement to Al-Shorouk newspaper.

He assured that any normalisation of relations between the two countries would not interfere with the security of the oil-rich Arab monarchies in the Gulf.

"Any rapproachement between Cairo and any other capital must not interfere with Egypt's commitments to defending Arab causes, and the Gulf countries know this very well," he said.

On Saturday, Salehi said he hoped Egypt would take a "courageous step" to restore relations between the two countries which broke down more than 30 years ago when Cairo recognised Israel.

Under former president Hosni Mubarak, who resigned February 11 after 18 days of protests, Egypt had worked to check the influence of Shiite Iran in the region amid concerns over its nuclear ambitions and support for the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The Sunni-ruled Arab nations in the Gulf -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman -- have expressed concern over Iran in recent weeks, accusing it of "interfering" in their internal affairs.

Tension between Iran and its Arab neighbours across the Gulf rose since the Shiite-led protests against Bahrain's ruling Sunni dynasty broke out in mid-February.

Iran has strongly condemned the dispatch of a Saudi-led Gulf force including UAE police to Bahrain in a move which freed up Bahraini security forces to crush the protest movement in the only Shiite-majority Arab state of the Gulf.

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