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6 Jul, 2012 19:38

Middle East détente: Iran launches new era of Egyptian relations

Middle East détente: Iran launches new era of Egyptian relations

Egypt and Iran are set to restart bilateral relations after more than three decades of animosity. Iran will place no limits on the strengthening of relations with Egypt, said President Ahmadinejad in his first phone call with his counterpart.

He invited newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to a summit of Non-Aligned Movement nations to be held in Tehran.

The non-Aligned movement is a group of countries that see themselves as set apart from the mainstream politics of the major world powers.  "Egypt's role in this movement is undeniable, and constructive cooperation between Iran and Egypt in this movement can have many positive outcomes,” said Ahmedinejad.

He added that Iran was prepared to bolster ties in the fields of technology, industry and economy, stressing the necessity of political dialogue to discuss problems that affect both nations.

Ahmedinejad congratulated Morsi on his election success, and said that the two nations shared a cultural heritage, underlining that Iran would always stand by the Egyptians.

Morsi for his part said “the Non-Aligned Movement is an important meeting which is like an umbrella covering many Islamic and non-Islamic nations, and I hope to witness the realization this international organization’s aims,”  the Iranian state news website Mehr reported him as saying.

Iranian-Egyptian relations fell into a period of stagnation following the signing of an Egyptian peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

However, upon assuming the Egyptian presidency, Morsi voiced his wishes to rekindle diplomatic ties with Iran and possibly reconsider the peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt is predominantly made up of Sunni Muslims, while Iran belongs to the Shiite group of Islam which has been a source of contention between the two nations in the past.

Meanwhile, the ascension of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party was met with concern by the Israeli press who view an Islamist in the seat of Egyptian power as a potential threat.

Morsi announced that he wished to reconsider the terms of the peace treaty with Israel on the grounds that the accords were unequal and made under pressure from the US.

In response Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to Cairo, urging the newly elected President to honor Egypt’s contractual agreements with Israel.