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Khatami: Iran-Egypt ties beneficial to Islamic, Arab worlds


President Mohammad Khatami said in Tehran on Wednesday that relations between Iran and Egypt are in the interest of the two countries as well as the Islamic and Arab worlds, IRNA reported.

Talking to reporters after the 4th Summit Meeting of Eight Developing Countries (D 8), Khatami added Iran and Egypt enjoy special status regarding their populations and geographical situations.

"I think what the history and culture has determined is solidarity and union between the Iranian and Egyptian nations," he said.

"Although differences of political views have been existed between the two countries, their bilateral, cultural and friendly ties have never been cut off," Khatami added.

He termed Egypt as an influential country and said Egypt is a great country regarding its history and culture and important influence in the region.

"No two nations in the Islamic world are closer than the Iranian and Egyptian nations," the president said.

Pointing to the role of Iran and Egypt in expansion of the Islamic civilization, Khatami said the two countries currently enjoy high level of cooperation in cultural and intellectual fields compared to other states as they played a significant role in promoting the Islamic civilization and religious intellectualism.

"Today our governments are taking strides in a way to get closer to each other and I am confident that ties between Iran and Egypt are in the interest of the two countries as well as the Islamic and Arab states," Khatami added.

Egyptian, Iranian FMs hold talks in Tehran

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher and his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi held talks in Tehran on Tuesday on the fringes of an economic summit, in which they discussed regional and international issues.

According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the two officials exchanged views on joint cooperation of Tehran and Cairo in various areas.

"Kharrazi and Ahmad Maher also agreed on maintaining contacts and exchange of views between the two sides for complete resumption of relations between Tehran and Cairo," it said in a press release.

"Iran and Egypt share common hopes and worries and the meeting of the two countries' presidents in Geneva was a positive sign of the two sides' intention for bilateral cooperation," the Foreign Ministry quoted Maher as saying the meeting.

"Egypt favors contacts to continue and is ready for more engagement," Maher said, adding 'cooperation between Tehran and Cairo will guarantee interests of the region'.

"Cooperation is the only alternative for removing common threats and worries and for strengthening security, stability and economic development in the region," the Egyptian foreign minister said.

According to the press release, the two officials described the situation of Iraq as 'grave' and hailed a recent meeting which was held in Kuwait with the participation of Iraq's neighbors.

"Kharrazi announced Iran's backing for inter-regional dialogue and stressed that such talks would bring about very useful results for removing regional problems," it said.

He also touched on the situation in Iraq and reiterated Iran's call for restoration of democracy to the war-torn country.

"We believe that postponement of elections in Iraq will put negative impact on the process of the country's security and stability," Kharrazi said.

The two foreign ministers also discussed the Middle East issues and reiterated the need for restoring the rights of the Palestinian people.

"The Islamic Republic's foreign minister stated that the Zionist regime does not believe in peace; he also stressed the need for vigilance among regional countries to confront the plots and deception of this regime," the office said.

Iran and Egypt took a series of fence-mending measures last month, fuelling speculation that the two countries - virtually at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution - would imminently resume ties.

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

Maher's visit is seen to 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.

The two countries moved early last month towards rapprochement after 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.

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 Islamic developing countries (D-8) in Tehran.

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

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.

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