Iranian FM Salehi on charm offensive in Egypt

Shi'ite Iran, increasingly isolated over its nuclear program, pursues a rapprochement with Muslim Brotherhood-led Sunni Egypt.

Egyptian President Morsi with Iranian FM Salehi 370 (photo credit: REUTERS / Handout)
Egyptian President Morsi with Iranian FM Salehi 370
(photo credit: REUTERS / Handout)
Iran has sent its foreign minister to Cairo on Thursday in order to improve ties with Egypt and overcome Sunni-Shi’ite tensions that are playing out over the region, particularly in Syria.
Iranian-Egyptian relations have improved since the fall of Hosni Mubarak and on Thursday Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with President Mohamed Morsi and other important Egyptian leaders.
He also met with Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, the most important Sunni scholarly institutions in the world. The two men tried to play down differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Salehi said that the tensions were being orchestrated by the Western media and invited Morsi to Iran on behalf of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The neighboring states and the states of the region must seek a way to solve to the Syrian issue in a Syrian-Syrian way,” Salehi said.
He added that Iran would like to see negotiations between the opposing sides “without resorting to parties outside the region.”
Meanwhile last week, Morsi’s political adviser Issam al-Haddad held a secret meeting with Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, to learn how to control and take over the Egypt’s security forces, according to a report in Wednesday’s edition of the Egyptian paper Al-Masry al-Youm.
The paper quotes anonymous security sources that say the Iranians sought to help Egypt develop its intelligence services. Muslim Brotherhood members at the meeting wanted to apply the lessons learned by Iran and apply them to Egypt.
The paper also stated that the reason for the removal of Egypt’s interior minister was that he opposed the secret meeting.
Egypt denied that the meeting took place, but the meeting was also reported by The Times of London.