Egypt's state-run paper al-Ahram has appealed to Egyptian and Iranian authorities to learn from European unity and proceed to form Muslim integration, and called for the immediate exchange of ambassadors between Cairo and Tehran, IRNA reported from Brussels.
"A few days ago, 25 European countries gathered to discuss a draft European constitution. No agreement has been reached, but one is expected within the next few months. Apparently, European unity has passed the point of no return. So, have we learned anything from it? Have we understood how this European dream turned into reality?" said an article in the weekly English edition of al-Ahram. The paper was referring to an EU summit held in Brussels last week.
"Are the differences among and rivalry between Arab and Islamic countries worse today than Europe's were a half century ago? Obviously not. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It also begins with a clear mind. Can the intellectual elites of Egypt and Iran provide a political vision enabling both countries to become an engine for Arab and Muslim integration? This may seem far-fetched, but not more so than European unity was a half century back,'' wrote Hassan Nafaa professor of political science at Cairo University.
Referring to a recent meeting between Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Geneva, the paper said it "suggests that things are about to change, and that the conservatives and security services are relaxing their grip on bilateral ties. This is good news, for it is time for both nations to straighten out their relations."
The article said: "Egypt and Iran should turn over a new leaf and exchange ambassadors right away."
It proposed that Egyptian and Iranian intellectuals should meet to discuss such momentous topics as Arabism versus Islam; the rapprochement among Islamic sects; Persian Gulf security versus Arab and Muslim security; the dialogue of civilizations. The two countries should also agree on a way to manage the conflict with Israel; formulate a common stand on the US occupation of Iraq; and take a firm stand on the matter of nuclear proliferation in the region, particularly with regard to Israel's atomic weapons, it said.
"Egypt is the biggest Arab country; Iran is the biggest neighbouring non-Arab Islamic country. Egypt is the centre for Sunni Islam; Iran is the centre for Shi'ite Islam."
"The two countries share a depth of civilisation, harbour regional ambitions and know how to talk in a language the world can understand. Were these two countries to resolve their disputes, many contradictions between, and within, the Arab and Islamic worlds, may disappear," al-Ahram concluded.
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