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Ahmadinejad In Egypt In Landmark Visit


Ahmadinejad Makes Landmark Visit To Egypt
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Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has held talks in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart, Muhammad Morsi, as he began the first visit to Egypt by an Iranian president since 1979.

Egypt's state-run news agency MENA said that immediately after Ahmadinejard's arrival, the two leaders headed into discussions on regional developments and on "how to end the bloodshed in Syria" without military intervention.

Egypt and Iran support opposing sides in the conflict. Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad's regime, while Egypt has sided with Syria's rebels.

MENA said the two also discussed ways to boost relations between Egypt and Iran.

Ahmadinejad is leading the Iranian delegation to the Cairo summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which begins on February 6.

Ties between Egypt and Iran were cut in 1980 after Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Since the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak and brought to power the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, Iran has taken steps to improve its relations with Egypt.

Morsi visited Iran last year for a summit of the Nonaligned Movement.

Iran welcomed Morsi’s election in June 2013 as Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, saying it marked a new stage of development in the Middle East and an "Islamic awakening.”

The two countries, however, have remained deeply split over the civil war in Syria.

Iran is one of the last remaining allies of the Assad regime in Syria, which is led by members of the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Tehran has vigorously opposed any move toward foreign intervention in the conflict.

Morsi, meanwhile, has been a vocal opponent of the Syrian regime. His government has expressed backing for the rebels seeking to overthrow the government.

The Syrian war is expected to be among the main issues discussed at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo. Syria’s membership in the organization has been suspended because of the war.

History Of Enmity

Ties between Iran and Egypt were bitter during the rule of Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years before he was ousted amid mass demonstrations in February 2011, leading to Morsi's eventual election.

Moves were made last year to reestablish formal Iranian-Egyptian relations, but full diplomatic ties have not yet been restored.

Once-strong links between Iran and Egypt were severed after 1979, when Iran had its Islamic Revolution and Egypt reached a peace agreement with Israel. Iran does not recognize the Jewish state.

In a sign of the former hostility between Iran and Egypt, Iran named a Tehran street after the Islamist who led the squad that in 1981 assassinated Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president who concluded the peace treaty with Israel.

Both Egypt and Israel receive billions of dollars in aid each year from Iran’s rival, the United States.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, AP, and Ahram Online
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