Iran News ...


2/8/04

Iran to formally invite Egyptian president to economic summit

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday that a formal invitation letter would be sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to participate in an upcoming summit in Tehran, IRNA reported.

"The invitation to Mr. Mubarak will be sent either today or tomorrow," he told reporters at a weekly press briefing.

Asefi, however, mentioned news dispatches which have ruled out Mubarak's visit and counted on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher to head the country's delegation at the group of eight summit.

The visit by Mubarak to Iran has already been ruled out but the level at which Cairo will participate in an economic summit in Tehran later this month still remains to be seen.

That will set the tone for the two countries on how to proceed with the 'reconstruction' of their diplomatic ties, which have been almost non-existent due to the Camp David peace treaty with Israel.

Asefi said, "Ties with Egypt are on the right track and we are moving ahead step by step. The question that when the ties are resumed needs time (to be answered)."

The two countries moved early last month towards rapprochement after Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher renounced the accord as a thing of ancient history.

The gesture was immediately reciprocated by Iran, which renamed the Khaled Islambouli street, called after the assassin of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said last week that 'relations between Iran and Egypt are in the restoration phase and need time'.

"There should be a natural and definite course for relations to be resumed in the near future. What is important is that both sides have decided on this and are working on it," he said.

The group of eight summit is due to be held in Tehran between February 19 and 20. It includes Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria.

Tehran and Cairo first broke the ice in June 2000 after President Mohammad Khatami spoke on phone with Mubarak in the first such conversation by the presidents of the two countries.

Khatami and Mubarak met in Geneva in December, on the sidelines of a UN technology summit. Iran said later it had invited the Egyptian president to attend the summit of eight developing Islamic countries (D-8) in Tehran.

The Islamic Republic severed its ties with Egypt after its former President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David peace accord with the Zionist regime and provided sanctuary to defunct shah.

Speaking to IRNA in Cairo in January, Egyptian Foreign Minister Maher said that the Camp David accord 'does not exist anymore and is merely a thing of the past'.

"There have been many changes and I believe that this case between Iran and Egypt has already been closed... What matters now is the interest of Iran and Egypt to work with each other."

At the request of the Foreign Ministry, Tehran City Council then agreed to rename the Khaled Islambouli street to Intifada (uprising) of the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Those conciliatory gestures fuelled speculation that the two Middle East giants may imminently renew full diplomatic ties. But, Egypt later assumed a half-hearted attitude, and Maher was cited as saying that an imminent normalization of ties was a thing 'in the future'.

... Payvand News - 2/8/04 ... --



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