(photo credit: AP)
Egypt is opposed to any military action against Iran and is working on normalizing its own relations with the Islamic Republic after 28 years of frozen ties, the foreign minister said Wednesday.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit's remarks come amid rising US ire over Iran's nuclear program and a day after a senior Iranian delegation held a series of meetings in Egypt.
"Egypt absolutely does not agree with solving the Iranian nuclear issue by force or any military action," Aboul Gheit said, adding, "Egypt supports peaceful settlement for this issue through negotiations which guarantee the Iranian right to a peaceful nuclear program."
The Iranian delegation was led by Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi and it came "in the context of what has been agreed upon between the two sides, to hold continuous talks in order to strengthen bilateral relations," the ministry statement said Tuesday.
Araghachi's visit were the first concrete step taken by Iranians to restore bilateral ties following the May announcement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that his country was ready to open its embassy in Cairo as soon as Egypt agreed to do the same in Teheran.
Teheran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Relations further deteriorated when Egypt backed Iraq during the 1980-1988 Gulf War. Since then, the two countries have had limited diplomatic contact.
Egypt has repeatedly demanded Iran take down a large mural of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassin, Khaled el-Islambouli, and change the name of a street honoring him.
Several times over the last few years, Teheran has said it would change the street name, but to this day the image of el-Islambouli shouting behind bars marked with a Star of David looms down over the street bearing his name.
On Friday, Aboul Gheit heads to New York for a series of UN-related meetings and he said he might meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki while there.