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First Egyptian minister in 21 years to visit Iran

Cairo, Sep 27 (EFE). - Egyptian Public Sector Minister Mojtar Khatab is to travel to Iran this week, the first cabinet member to visit that country since the Islamic revolution in 1979, Egyptian diplomats said Wednesday.

According to the sources, Khatab will leave Friday and is to attend the opening of the Tehran Trade Fair which begins the following day.

"The visit reflects the desire by both countries to begin a new chapter in their relations after more than two decades without ties," the sources said. Iran broke formal diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1979 after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Tehran was also angered when Egypt gave refuge to exiled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi after he fled the Islamic revolution. The shah is buried in Cairo.

Since taking office in 1997, moderate Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has worked to restore good relations with the Arab countries, including Egypt.

But diplomats note that Cairo is still upset over a street in Tehran named for Khaled Islambuli, the fundamentalist Egyptian army officer who assassinated Sadat during a military parade in 1981.


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