Ahmadinejad wants an anti-Zionist Egypt and hopes to rebuild ties

Reuters and AFP, Wednesday 1 Jun 2011

In Tehran to talk with President Ahmadinejad, an Egyptian delegation hears how the Iranian leader wants to build a regional power out of cooperation with Cairo

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with an Egyptian delegation Wednesday, expressing his desire to rebuild relations with Egypt and to see a Zionist free region.

"Our enemies do not want us to rebuild our ties because they know a great political and economic power will emerge from our cooperation," Ahmadinejad said, according to Reuters.

The idea of a rapprochement between Shia-led Iran and Sunni-majority Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, would alarm the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. He told the delegation the emergence of a new "great power" would force "Zionists" to leave the region.

"If we stand together, there is no need for their (American) help because Iran and Egypt have needs which can be met by relying on each other's capabilities," he said.

The official news agency Irna quoted the president telling the Egyptian group that he wants to see an "anti-Zionist and anti-arrogance (Iran's shorthand for the West)" Egypt.

The Egyptian delegation visiting Iran is made up of academics, clerics and media representatives.

Following the fall of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Tehran and Cairo have raised the possibility of resuming diplomatic relations. They were broken off in 1980 because of Iran's opposition to the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty.

Ahmadinejad added: "One of my dreams is to go to Egypt ... As soon as I receive an invitation from Egyptian officials I will go immediately, and with pride, to Egypt."

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was reported as saying that Iran was optimistic about normalising ties with Cairo despite the expulsion by Egypt of an Iranian diplomat on Monday on suspicion of spying. Salehi said the diplomat's expulsion was a misunderstanding that had been resolved. He did not elaborate.

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