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Egypt diplomat says killer street, not Israel, blocking ties with Iran

TEHRAN, Aug 25 (AFP) - Egypt's top diplomat in Iran said Tehran's decision to name a street after the assassin of president Anwar Sadat was one of the chief obstacles to restoring full diplomatic ties, papers said Wednesday.

Mohammad Fathi Al-Tatawi, the head of Egypt's interests section here, also rejected suggestions that Egypt's Camp David peace accord with Israel was an impediment to the restoration of full Tehran-Cairo relations.

"Iran enjoys excellent relations with Morocco, the country which played the key role in the signing of the Camp David peace treaty," he said, quoted in the English-language Iran Daily.

"Tehran also has full ties with Amman, which has good ties with Israel," Al-Tatawi said, adding that Cairo's own relations with the Jewish state were more akin to "a cold peace without any real relationship."

"Instead of saying that the more Egypt distances itself from Israel, the closer both countries will get, let us say that enhanced cooperation between the two will benefit all Moslem nations of the world," he said.

Al-Tatawi again raised the sensitive issue of Khaled al-Islambuli Street, a Tehran thoroughfare renamed for the leader of the group which in 1981 killed Egyptian president Anwar Sadat after he signed the Camp David accords.

Iran's decision to rename the street several years ago remains one of the chief obstacles to improving bilateral ties, Al-Tatatwi said, quoted by the paper.

The daily was citing an interview in Tuesday's conservative Persian-language daily Entekhab, which also reported that Al-Tatawi said naming the street after Sadat's killer "leaves an ambiguity as to whether Iran is meddling in Egypt's internal affairs."

He did not elaborate.

The diplomat also dismissed suggestions that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Sadat's successor, was against forging full relations with Tehran, saying Mubarak has frequently praised the leadership of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

"However, similar remarks have never been heard from Iranian officials," he said. Al-Tatawi earlier this month said the establishment of full rela

"Cooperation between our two countries is a strategic necessity that must go beyond mere words and be translated into concrete action to establish peace and stability in the region," he said.

He noted Iran's efforts to defuse tension between Syria and Turkey and its cooperation with Saudi Arabia to boost oil prices earlier this year as "examples of unity and solidarity among Islamic nations."

He also shrugged off questions about the arrest of 13 Iranian Jews on charges of spying for Israel, saying he agreed with Mubarak that the matter was an internal one that concerns Tehran alone.

"The best way to forge strong relations between our fraternal countries is to respect the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs," he said.

Cairo and Tehran broke off full diplomatic relations in 1980 following the Islamic revolution in Iran and are currently only represented by interests sections in each other's capitals.

But the two nations have signed several bilateral cooperation accords, mainly in the health and pharmaceutical sectors.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi sent his Egyptian counterpart Amr Mussa a letter last month calling for increased ties between the two nations.

As well as congratulating Mussa on the anniversary of the 1952 overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy, Kharazi expressed Iran's desire to "start a close cooperation with Egypt in all areas."


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