Iranian FM meets Mubarak in Egypt

Egyptian president urges Teheran to help stabilize Lebanon.

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August 13, 2006 11:47
2 minute read.
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Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak has told the visiting Iranian foreign minister that his government should help in world efforts to bring stability back to war-battered Lebanon, Egyptian official media reported Sunday. Ahead of Mubarak's meeting with Mottaki, the state-owned Al Gomhuria quoted "a senior official source" at Mubarak's office as saying the Egyptian leader plans to urge Iran to support diplomacy in Lebanon. "Egypt believes that it would be wise to work at easing tension in order to avoid any further escalation that would threaten the existence of Lebanon as an Arab state," the official told the paper. The official said that Mottaki was intending to press for Egypt to forge a unified Egyptian-Iranian stance in support of Hizbullah and against Israel's invasion of southern Lebanon. "The Egyptian position is that the region cannot bear more tension," the Egyptian official said. Egypt will press for the full implementation of the international resolutions on Lebanon, he added. The UN resolution unanimously approved Friday calls for the withdrawal of Israel's 30,000 troops in Lebanon and the deployment of an international peacekeeping mission on the border. The Egyptian president, a key US ally, met for over an hour with Mottaki in his summer retreat, a former royal palace in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. Later, Mottaki held separate talks with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Mottaki, who traveled to Turkey and Yemen in recent day, was on a regional tour to drum up support for Huzbollah. Egypt has blamed Hizbullah for provoking the war but also accused Israel of overreacting by launching air raids that have destroyed most of Lebanon's infrastructure and killed more than 700 people - largely civilians. Israel charges that Iran is aiding Hezbollah on the ground in Lebanon as well as supplying the guerrillas with weapons. Iran has denied the charges. Relations between Iran and Egypt recently improved, but ties have been strained for years. Egypt has accused Iran of supporting the militants who killed President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and Iran was angered when Egypt took in its ousted Shah after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran only has a diplomatic mission in Cairo. Meanwhile in Teheran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry gave a cool welcome to the UN Security Council resolution for a cease-fire in Lebanon, criticizing its late approval. "The resolution is inconsistent," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. "Its late approval has damaged reputation of the UN Security Council," said Teheran - itself under the threat of a UN resolution if it does not freeze its contentious nuclear program. The spokesman said Iran expects "the Zionist regime and its supporters abide by the resolution." Teheran is the main backer of the Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah guerrilla, which triggered the current violence by capturing two Israeli soldiers in a brazen cross-border raid on July 12.

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