It is not true that diplomatic relations with Iran were cut off, said Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Araby, adding that there was an Interests Section in each country managed by an ambassador from the other. In a press statement on Saturday, Araby said he had met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehy on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Jakarta two weeks ago. "Our stance is that Iran is not an enemy of Egypt," he said.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been significantly strained since 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran erupted and former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat supported its opponents. Tensions continued during ousted president Hosni Mubarak's era, due to differences in the countries’ political orientations.
Regarding Gulf countries' fears concerning the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two, and how it could impact Gulf security, Araby said, "The Gulf's security is part of our security, and as I said before, Gulf security is a red line."
Araby referred to a similar statement made by Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Observers note concern felt by the Gulf states, headed by Saudi Arabia, over Iran's diplomatic moves in the region and their belief that it is attempting to spread Shi'ism. Egypt and the Gulf countries are predominantly Sunni.
In related news, Araby said Egypt supports the idea of a Western envoy to Syria to negotiate an end to the popular unrest there, to avoid a UN Security Council resolution against the Syrian leadership. Araby said Egypt was working behind the scenes, and that it hopes serious reforms will be immediately implemented within a fixed timetable by the Syrian government, to meet the demands of the people.
Translated from the Arabic Edition