Egypt won’t make friends with Iran any time soon, says presidency

Egypt and Iran won’t be reinstating normal diplomatic relations any time soon, presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali told the London-based Asharq Al-Aswat on Friday.

Ali said that President Mohamed Morsy's visit to Tehran for the Non-Alignment Summit is protocol, not a sign of changing diplomacy.

Morsy made his position clear when discussing the situation in Syria at the summit of Muslim leaders held earlier this month in Mecca, which was attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali said.

At the summit, Morsy suggested forming a contact group between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to tackle the crisis in Syria. However, Morsy would not support military intervention in Syria, which may occur if the Syrian regime continues to persist with the support of Russia and China.

 "Egypt rejects that the Syrian regime remains in power at the expense of its people, but at the same time does not accept any military intervention,” Ali explained.

 Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had stressed the importance of President Mohamed Morsy’s visit to Tehran, and Iran's determination to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt.

Ties between the predominantly Sunni Egypt and mostly Shia Iran were severed in 1979 following Iran's Islamic revolution and the signing of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of the US who regularly met top Israeli officials, Iran and Egypt sparred for influence in the Middle East.

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday, when asked during a press conference if Washington was concerned about this issue, that the normalization of relations with Iran is a sovereign decision for Egypt to make.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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