Iran not an enemy, says Egyptian foreign minister

Ahram Online, Sunday 8 May 2011

Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi discusses Israel, Palestine and improved relations with Iran

Nabil Elaraby
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi has said Egypt will open a new page with most countries in the world, including Iran.

In an interview published yesterday in The Washington Post, Al-Araby said Egypt is looking to improve relations with most countries, but it is not yet clear how Egypt’s relationship with Iran will develop.

“I said Egypt has turned a page with every country in the world. I never specified Iran. [I was] asked if this included Iran, and I said yes,” Al-Arabi told the Post. “We don’t want to look backwards, we want to look forward. No decision has been made on Iran. Every country in the world has relations with Iran except three — [the United States], Egypt and Israel.”

When asked about why Egypt allowed an Iranian ship to go through the Suez Canal, Al-Arabi said that Egypt cannot stop a ship from passing unless it belongs to a country Egypt is at war with.

“They [Iran] are not an enemy,” Al-Arabi said. “If you want me to say it — Iran is not an enemy. We have no enemies. Anywhere.”

He also added that Egypt’s relations with Iran should not affect their relationship with the US, because, says Al-Arabi, the US’s closest allies, namely the UK, France and Germany, also have relations with Iran.

Egypt's foreign minister also talked about the role Egypt played in reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, which he said was due to the policy of the new post-revolution government to “open a new page with all countries in the world”.

Al-Arabi also confirmed that Egypt will comply with the Camp David Accords it signed with Israel in 1979 and added that Egypt will continue selling gas to Israel, but the price may change.

The selling gas of to Israel has been a sore issue for many Egyptians who claim that Israel gets gas at well below market price.

Al-Arabi also said that Egypt is doing what it can to gain European recognition for the State of Palestine. He also brushed aside claims that Hamas may be an obstacle to the peace process because they don’t accept the State of Israel, saying that Hamas accepts that there will be negotiations with Israel.

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