Egyptian president to visit Iran

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Sunday, August 19, 2012

President Mohammed Mursi plans to attend a summit in Iran this month, state media reported late on Saturday, on the first such visit since Egypt severed ties with Tehran more than three decades ago.

The official MENA news agency quoted a source in the presidency as saying Mursi will attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on August 30-31 at which Egypt will transfer the bloc's rotating leadership to Iran.

Cairo and Tehran severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, and hostility between the two countries has been strong ever since.

Mursi, the country's first democratically elected president, has been expected to improve ties with Tehran since his inauguration on June 30.

It is unclear whether Mursi will hold two-way meetings with Iranian officials during the visit.

Under ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, several attempts were by trade ministers and business leaders to bolster economic ties but they stirred objections from the foreign ministry and intelligence circles, officials said at the time.

On Thursday, the United States said it had told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the NAM summit in Iran sent a "strange signal" after Tehran reported that the UN chief would also attend.

Hamas promises to help in Sinai

Meanwhile the Palestinian Hamas movement renewed its pledge to cooperate with Egypt to restore order along the border between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.

"We reiterate our readiness to cooperate with our brothers in Egypt to ensure the security of our borders and our common interests," the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said.

"We want security cooperation with Egypt but not with the Zionist enemy," he said as he addressed thousands of worshipers gathered in Gaza City for traditional prayers marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The Gaza Strip "will never be a source of instability or a threat to Egyptian security," he pledged.

The Egyptian security forces launched a campaign to crush increasingly brazen rebels in the Sinai after an attack on an army post killed 16 soldiers on August 5.

Sources in Cairo have said that some of the gunmen involved in the attack had entered Sinai through a network of smuggling tunnels which run under the Gaza border.

And Egypt has asked Hamas for information on three Islamists suspected of involvement in the attack, an Egyptian security official has said.

In the latest violence on Saturday, militants wounded three Egyptian policemen in an ambush on their vehicle with a rocket propelled grenade.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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