Iran seeks to boost ties with Egypt

The United States and Israel against normalisation of Egypt-Iran relations.

Tehran: Iran hopes that Egypt will make a "bold step" and restore diplomatic relations between the two countries, after a 30-year break, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday.

Salehi, who was quoted by Iran`s state-run IRNA News Agency, added that the Islamic Republic was "ready to raise the level of our relations with Egypt and we hope that the Egyptian officials, taking into account our oral and written exchanges, will take this courageous step."

The Iranian diplomat said he was sure that "Egyptian officials will be able to overcome the pressure”, as he phrased it, by the United States and Israel against the normalisation of Egypt-Iran relations.

Iran broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 after the Islamic revolution, in protest of its recognition of Israel.

With the end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, Tehran has stepped up calls to the new Egyptian authorities installed in power to upgrade the two countries` diplomatic relations. A recent statement by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mehmanparast Ramin stated that Tehran was "willing to take steps forward if our Egyptian brothers are willing as well."

Nevertheless, Ramin noted that at this time no decision on a possible exchange of ambassadors has been made.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi, on his part, said Cairo was ready to "turn over a new leaf" in its relations with Tehran, "Provided that (relationships) are based on mutual respect, state sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs in any manner whatsoever."

Meanwhile, Iran and Egypt have reportedly inked the first agreement since the latter`s change in government.

According a statement by Iran-Egypt Council of Merchants chairman Muhyaddin Al-Gandur, "an agreement was signed between a number of Iranian and Egyptian tourism agencies to start bilateral cooperation on the exchange of tourists."

The agreement stated that 10,000 Iranian nationals will be allowed to visit Egypt every month, while 60,000 Egyptians will be allowed to travel to Iran annually.

Bureau Report

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