Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)
TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Egypt on Wednesday to rebuild diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, saying the emergence of a new "great power" would force "Zionists" to leave the region.
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At a meeting with Egyptian academics, clerics and media representatives in Tehran, Ahmadinejad pushed his plan to rebuild links with Cairo after the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.
The idea of a rapprochement between Shi'ite-led Iran and Sunni-majority
Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, would alarm the United States,
Israel and Saudi Arabia.
"Our enemies do not want us rebuild our ties because they know a great
political and economic power will emerge from our cooperation,"
"Then all the Zionists along with other enemies of nations must leave and escape this region."
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly forecast the imminent disappearance of the
Jewish state, which Jerusalem says is a threat of annihilation,
especially because of Iran's nuclear program. Tehran denies it is
seeking atomic bombs.
"I proudly announce that we are ready to give all our experiences to the
Egyptian nation ... if there is an investment opportunity in Egypt we
are proudly willing to do that," state broadcaster IRIB quoted
Ahmadinejad as saying.
Under Mubarak, Egypt was a close US ally which maintained its 1979 peace
treaty with Israel and shared Saudi Arabia's suspicions of Iran and its
alleged nuclear weapons program.
Ahmadinejad said an alliance with Iran would remove Egypt's need to rely on US support.
"If we stand together, there is no need for their [American] help
because Iran and Egypt have needs which can be met by relying on each
other's capabilities," he said.
Ties between Cairo and Tehran were severed after Iran's 1979 Islamic
revolution and Egypt's signing of the peace treaty with Israel. Although
Egypt and Iran do not have full diplomatic relations, each has a
diplomatic mission in the other's capital.
Tehran sees improved ties with Egypt as a desirable outcome of what it
calls the Arab world's "Islamic awakening", which it hopes will reduce
US influence and unite Muslim countries.
Last week Egyptian authorities briefly detained and questioned an
Iranian diplomat on suspicion of spying. He was released when his
diplomatic status was confirmed and returned to Iran.
Two Iranian naval ships passed through Egypt's Suez Canal in February,
the first to be allowed to do so since the Islamic revolution, a move
Israel described as a "provocation".