Iran, Egypt may announce full ties -Iran official
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland, June 30 (Reuters) - Estranged Middle East
heavyweights Iran and Egypt may announce within weeks the resumption of
full diplomatic ties after 21 years of strained relations, a senior Iranian
official said on Friday.
``As far as I know there is a plan in the next few weeks to announce
the official resumption of full diplomatic relations,'' Iranian Deputy
Foreign Minister Mohammad Hossein Adeli said during a panel discussion
at the Crans-Montana business forum.
Iran broke diplomatic ties with Egypt in 1979 after Cairo signed a peace
treaty with Israel.
Egypt gave refuge to the shah after he was ousted by the late Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution that same year. The shah died in
1980 and was buried in Cairo.
But Egyptian-Iranian ties have improved markedly since Iran's reformist
President Mohammad Khatami was elected in 1997, although they have stopped
short of the full normalisation that Khatami has said he wants.
Last week, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak telephoned Khatami in the
first top-level contact of its kind in more than two decades.
Mubarak, who came to power after Islamic radicals assassinated President
Anwar Sadat in 1981, called to congratulate Khatami on the decision of
the G-15 group of developing countries at a summit in Cairo to accept Iran's
application to join.
Last Friday , Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said in published
remarks that the door was open for better Egyptian-Iranian relations.
``I think that with these trends we have seen in recent years, one would
expect that this would continue in the future and we are expecting to see
some developments in the very near future,'' Adeli said.
The deputy foreign minister cited the improving tone of bilateral ties,
capped by the phone call between Khatami and Mubarak.
``I am optimistic,'' Adeli told Reuters when asked to elaborate on his
``I don't know when, but it will be in the near future. The exchanges
that have been made recently indicate that there are going to be some new
developments towards the establishment of full diplomatic ties in the near
future,'' he added.
Positive diplomatic signals were flowing in both directions, he said.
Cairo has said it cannot countenance a full restoration of ties until
Iran re-names a Tehran street named in honour of Khaled Islambouli, an
Islamic radical who assassinated Sadat.
Islamic hardliners in Iran oppose reconciliation with Egypt, a major
U.S. ally in the region. The Tehran offices of a newly set up Iran-Egypt
Friendship Society were ransacked in January.