Ahmadinejad in Egypt on historic visit

2013-02-05 19:00
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listen to the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at the airport in Cairo. (AFP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listen to the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at the airport in Cairo. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Egypt
    This book is jam packed with all the fascinating facts and information you need to know about Egypt. Now R149.00
    buy now

Cairo - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday on the first trip by an Iranian president since the 1979 revolution, underlining a thaw in relations since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state.

President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood politician elected in June, kissed Ahmadinejad as he disembarked from his plane at Cairo airport. The leaders walked down a red carpet, Ahmadinejad smiling as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.

Visiting Cairo to attend an Islamic summit that begins on Wednesday, the president of the Shi'ite Islamist republic is due to meet later on Tuesday with the grand sheikh of al-Azhar, one of the oldest seats of learning in the Sunni world.

Such a visit would have been unthinkable during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the military-backed autocrat who preserved Egypt's peace treaty with Israel during his 30 years in power and deepened ties between Cairo and the West.

"The political geography of the region will change if Iran and Egypt take a unified position on the Palestinian question," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV station, on the eve of his visit.

He said he wanted to visit the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory which neighbours Egypt to the east and is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. "If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people," Ahmadinejad said.

Analysts doubt that the historic changes that brought Mursi to power in Egypt will result in a full restoration of diplomatic ties between states whose relations were broken off after the Iranian revolution and the conclusion of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Obstacles to full ties

At the airport the two leaders discussed ways of boosting relations between their countries and resolving the Syrian crisis "without resorting to military intervention", Egyptian state media reported.

Egypt is concerned by Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is trying to crush an uprising inspired by the revolt that swept Mubarak from power two years ago. Egypt's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim population is broadly supportive of the uprising against Assad's Alawite-led administration.

The Morsi administration also wants to safeguard relations with Gulf Arab states that are supporting Cairo's battered state finances and are deeply suspicious of Iran.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr reassured Gulf Arab allies that Egypt would not jeopardise their security.

"The security of the Gulf states is the security of Egypt," he told the official MENA news agency, in response to questions about Cairo's opening to Iran and its impact on other states in the region.

Mursi wants to preserve ties with the United States, the source of $1.3bn in aid each year to the influential Egyptian military.

His government has established close ties with Hamas, a movement backed by Iran and shunned by the West because of its hostility to Israel, but its priority is addressing Egypt's deep economic problems.

"The restoration of full relations with Iran in this period is difficult, despite the warmth in ties ... because of many problems including the Syrian crisis and Cairo's links with the Gulf states, Israel and the United States," said one former Egyptian diplomat.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of preparatory meetings for the two-day Islamic summit, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he was optimistic that ties could grow closer.

Bilateral relationship

"We are gradually improving. We have to be a little bit patient. I'm very hopeful about the expansion of the bilateral relationship," he said. Asked where he saw room for closer ties, he said: "Trade and economics."

Ahmadinejad's visit to Egypt follows Mursi's visit to Iran in August for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of the 1 000-year-old al-Azhar mosque and university, will meet Ahmadinejad at his offices in mediaeval Islamic Cairo, al-Azhar's media office said.

Salehi, the Iranian foreign Minister, stessed the importance of Muslim unity when he met Sheikh al-Tayeb at al-Azhar last month.

Egypt and Iran have taken opposite courses since the late 1970s. Egypt, under Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat, concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and became a close ally of the United States and Europe. Iran from 1979 turned into a centre of opposition to Western influence in the Middle East.

Symbolically, Iran named a street in Tehran after the Islamist who led the 1981 assassination of Sadat.

Egypt gave asylum and a state funeral to Iran's exiled Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by the 1979 Iranian revolution. He is buried in a medieval Cairo mosque alongside his ex-brother-in-law, Egypt's last king, Farouk.

Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  hosni mubarak  |  bashar assad  |  egypt  |  syria  |  iran  |  north africa

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Bellville - 06:09 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC between the R300 Highway and the Durban Road exit
  • Friday Paarden Eiland - 06:07 AM
    Road name: Marine Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Neptune Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be putting too much effort into someone or something. You are doing it out of love and compassion but there is a chance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.