Iranian FM hopes for normal relations with Egypt

Ahram Online, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi hopes for normal relations with Egypt, stresses common bonds in interview

Ali Akbar Salehi
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (Photo:Reuters)

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi hopes relations with Egypt will be restored after ties were severed following Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979.

In an interview with Al-Ahram newspaper, Salehi said Iran "hope[s] relations will return to their natural state and their true course," and only maters of protocol stood in the way of restoring normal relations.

Iran appointed an ambassador to Egypt in the aftermath of the latter's 2011 uprising, the first envoy in Cairo for almost 30 years.

"Egypt is the cornerstone of the region and enjoys a special stature among Arab and Islamic states," Salehi eulogised, adding that both countries are tied by love, friendship and brotherhood.

The interview comes amid media reports that Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi is to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on 30-31 August where its leadership is to be transferred from Egypt to Iran.

Since the 2011 revolution, there have been hints of thawing relations between the two countries. As well as the appointment of an official envoy, Egypt allowed two Iranian ships to pass through the Suez canal in February 2011, a move forbidden during the Mubarak era.

Furthermore, Egypt's first post-Mubarak foreign minister, Nabil El-Arabi, announced plans to warm relations between the countries, although the rhetoric was subdued by later cabinets.

Salehi refuted the notion that fundamental rifts in belief exist between Iran's Shia sect and Egypt’s Sunni interpretation of Islam, saying that such divisions are promoted by the US and Zionists.

He insisted that Egypt and Iran share a common religion and civilization, and that colonialism had created racial, ethnic, religious and sectarian discrimination in which everyone loses, while they (the colonial powers) remain in control. This is what caused Arab-Iranian and Sunni-Shia tension in the region, Salehi said.

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