Iran`s Ahmadinejad on landmark visit in Cairo

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 18:44

Cairo: On a historic visit, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today arrived here, becoming the first Iranian president to visit Egypt since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

He was welcomed by Egyptian President Muhammed Mursi at Cairo International Airport.

During his three-day visit, the Iranian president will attend the Organisation of Islamic Conference`s summit on February 6-7 and seek to strengthen bilateral ties with Cairo.

"I will try to pave the ground for developing cooperation between Iran and Egypt," Iran`s official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying ahead of his visit to Cairo.

Egypt and Iran both enjoy "distinguished standings" on an international level that allowed them to influence regional and international issues, he said.

"If Tehran and Cairo see more eye to eye on regional and international issues, many (issues) will change," the Iranian president said.

Tehran, which severed ties with Cairo in 1980 in protest against a peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel, has sought to renew ties with the country since Islamist President Mursi was voted to power in June 2012.

Egypt, however, has responded cautiously to Iranian efforts to revive ties, with the two nations adopting opposing positions on the Syrian conflict.

Iran stands by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Egypt has been a leading voice in urging his departure -- along with regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

Reacting to Ahmadinejad`s visit, the hardline Salafi Dawa has issued a statement listing the points it believes the Mursi government should adhere to while holding talks with the Iranian President.

Apprehensive that Cairo-Tehran rapprochement might be at the expense of the supreme interest of Egypt and Sunnis, the Salafi Dawa party also asked Mursi to confront Ahmadinejad with alleged persecution of Sunnis in Iran.

They have also refused the Iranian president to visit the iconic Tahrir square, the hub of anti-Mursi protest.


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First Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 18:35

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