Egypt's Morsi to visit Iran in late August
Morsi will visit Iran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit; his visit to Tehran will be the first by an Egyptian head of state since the Islamic revolution.
Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi will visit Iran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement meetings on August 30, Egyptian state news agency MENA said. His visit will be the first such visit by an Egyptian head of state to Tehran since the Islamic revolution.
MENA quoted sources at the Egyptian presidency saying on Saturday that Morsi "will participate in the summit" on his way back from China.
A spokesman for Morsi was not immediately available for comment. Egyptian media reports have suggested Morsi might send his newly appointed deputy, Mahmoud Mekki, instead.
Since Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising last year, Egypt and Iran have signaled interest in renewing ties severed more than 30 years ago after Iran's Islamic Revolution and Egypt's recognition of Israel.
However, with the West pushing Iran to halt its disputed nuclear program and the United States being a major donor to Egypt's military, any improvement in ties could become a tricky path to tread.
Morsi said in June he would sue an Iranian news agency after it quoted him as saying he was interested in restoring relations with Tehran. Morsi aides said the interview was a fabrication.
Iran hailed the victory of Morsi, who resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood when he was elected in June, as an "Islamic Awakening." Morsi, however, is striving to reassure Egypt's Western allies wary at the prospect of Islamist rule, and Gulf states that are deeply suspicious of Iranian influence.
Egypt is the current head of the Non Aligned Movement, founded during the Cold War to advocate the causes of the developing world, is set to hand over to Iran in the Tehran meeting.
Egypt's formal recognition of Israel and Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution led in 1980 to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries, among the biggest and most influential in the Middle East. They currently have reciprocal interest sections, but not at ambassadorial level.
Egypt's former president Anwar Sadat received Iran's late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who fled Iran following the revolution in 1979 while one of Tehran's streets is named after the man who assassinated Sadat during a military parade in 1981.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cancel his plans to participate in the same conference. "Your trip to Iran is a big mistake, even if it is being done out of good intentions," Netanyahu told Ban in a telephone call, according to the Prim e Minister's Office.
The secretary-general was reportedly angered by the leaking of what he had believed was a private telephone call.