Ali Akbar Salehi
Iran is "optimistic" about boosting ties with Egypt, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, seen here on May 4, was reported as saying after Cairo expelled an Iranian diplomat on suspicion of spying. © MOHAMMED MAHJOUB - AFP/File
Ali Akbar Salehi
AFP
Last updated: February 6, 2012

Iran 'optimistic' on Egypt ties

Iran is "optimistic" about boosting ties with Egypt, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was reported as saying Tuesday after Cairo expelled an Iranian diplomat on suspicion of spying.

"We are optimistic about the future of ties between the two countries," Salehi was quoted as saying by state television's website

"The will of the two nations is to elevate ties but there are restrictions on the side of the Egyptian officials in this regard," he said at a seminar in Tehran about political upheaval in the Arab world.

"We hope in the coming months and after parliamentary elections in Egypt the circumstances become more prepared to materialise the elevation of ties between Cairo and Tehran," said the minister.

Salehi was referring to comments by Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi, whom state media quoted last week as saying that "the issue of raising the diplomatic representation will be reviewed by parliament."

Egypt's military rulers -- who took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February by a popular uprising -- have dissolved parliament and said elections for the People's Assembly would take place in September.

On Monday, Egyptian authorities expelled Iranian diplomat Qasim Hosseini on suspicion of spying. He had worked in the Iranian interest section office in Cairo.

Salehi said the diplomat's expulsion was "a misunderstanding that has been resolved," without elaborating.

Iran severed diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 in protest at Cairo's peace treaty with Israel signed a year earlier, and the two states maintain only interests sections in each other's capitals.

But the two Muslim countries have signalled they interest to mend ties in the wake of the February 11 fall of Mubarak's regime.

Around 50 of the Egypt's "Egyptian intellectuals, clerics and young revolutionaries," who were invited by the Islamic republic arrived here on Monday, a first such move after Mubarak's fall.

They were among the participants attending the "Islamic Awakening," seminar, who also will meet top Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as reported by ISNA.

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