Cairo and Tehran move to mend fences
A significant shift in Iran's relations with Egypt has taken place, allowing more room for different perspectives and closer ties, said Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hameed-Reza Asfa, reported KUNA. The two countries, however, still have a long way to go before diplomatic relations can be resumed.
As part of the warming relations, a two-day conference dealing with ways to develop bilateral relations will convene this year in Cairo, opening July 21. This year’s meeting follows a roundtable held last July in Tehran as a sign of rapprochement.
According to Iranian new agency IRNA, the Iranian delegation to the conference will be led by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sadeq Kharrazi and various ministry officials. Experts from Iran’s Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), and Egypt’s Al-Ahram Strategic Studies Bureau will also participate in discussions regarding promoting bilateral ties.
IRNA quoted Mohammad Said Idris, head of the Arabian Gulf Studies section at Al Ahram Strategic Studies Center in Cairo, as saying that the conference would deal with three factors influencing the Egyptian-Iranian warming ties― the international environment and globalization trends; the regional environment of the Arabian Gulf and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
An Egyptian trade fair held in Tehran late June was also aimed at improving economic and political relations between Egypt and Iran. The fair was the first such event since the two countries severed relations 22 years ago, when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel. Egypt also participated in the Tehran International Trade Fair last year.
Tehran-Cairo relations started to take off after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami took office in Iran in 1997. A phone conversation between Khatami and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak marked the renewed cooperation. Relations have since improved, and the two countries now run interest sections through the Swiss embassies in Cairo and Tehran, operated by Iranian and Egyptian diplomats.
The only sticking point between the two countries remains the renaming of a Tehran street, which honors the assassin of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. In an unexpected move, Tehran City Council voted to open an urgent debate on the issue, which has long hampered efforts to improve Iran-Egypt ties. ― (MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)