Tehran Hopes Egypt Will Ease Visa Procedures for Iranian Pilgrims
Egypt and Iran are holding talks on visa procedures for Iranians who want to visit the Arab country's Islamic sites, said the head of Iran's interest section in Cairo.
Khosrow Shahi told the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al Awsat Sunday that he hoped Egypt would soon start granting visas to Iranians who want to visit the shrines of the Prophet's household in Egypt.
The Arab paper noted that about 500,000 Iranians were waiting for Egyptian visas to visit Islamic sites in Cairo like the mosques of Imam Hussein, Al Sayyada Zeinab, Al Sayyada Nafisa and tens of other mosques linked with the Prophet’s family who lived and died in Egypt.
Shahi said such tourism would strengthen Cairo-Tehran ties and also contribute to increasing the Egyptian national income, since every Iranian tourist would spend an estimated $3,000 during his stay in Egypt.
An Egyptian trade fair held in Tehran late June was expected to improve economic and political relations between Egypt and Iran, said the head of the Egyptian delegation.
"The promotion of trade, cultural, art and sports ties will certainly lead to the improvement of positive objectives of the two countries in the political field," said Mostafa Al Kheshen.
The fair was the first such event since the two countries severed relations 22 years ago. 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.
Last year, Khatami talked with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by phone, the first contact between the leaders of both key countries in two decades. Tehran severed relations with Cairo following the latter’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Earlier this year, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on the sidelines of a developing nations summit.
The two countries, however, have a long way ahead to go before diplomatic relations can be resumed.
Several issues have been sticking points, one of them the name of a street which honors the assassin of late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
Last month, Tehran's City Council agreed to an urgent debate on changing the name of the street, which has strained Iranian-Egyptian relations.
The council said it wanted to rename Khaled Islambouli Street either for the "martyrs of the Intifada," or for Mohammad Ad Durra, the Palestinian boy whose killing last year by Israeli troops shocked the world.
Cairo has said that the street name is a barrier to restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Tehran Mayor Morteza Alviri earlier said he welcomed a change of name, as controversial names could "cause annoyance for the two countries.”
Amr Moussa, then Egypt's foreign minister, said in February that there was "no valid reason" why the two nations should not have full ties, but stopped short of calling for a total resumption of relations – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)