President Morsi in Mecca
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attends the opening of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, August 14, 2012. Photo by AP
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The Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Photo by AP

Egypt's recently elected Presdient Mohamed Morsi will be one of the head of states scheduled to visit one of Iran's central nuclear facilities on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran, an Iranian official indicated on Sunday.

The 120-nation summit was kicked off in the Islamic Republic's capital earlier in the day, with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi saying that he hoped for a show of solidarity against sanctions the West has imposed to punish Iran for its nuclear activities.

"The non-aligned (movement) must seriously oppose ... unilateral economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against non-aligned countries," Salehi told the summit's opening session.

Speaking to Iran's state-run television station Press TV later on Sunday, a member of the country's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy indicated that Morsi would visit the nuclear plant in Bushehr on the conference's sidelines.

“One of Iran's programs on the sidelines of the NAM summit is inviting heads of state to visit Iran's nuclear facilities,” Mansour Haqiqatpour was quoted by Press TV as saying.

According to Haqiqatpour the planned visit was “in line with countering propaganda against the Islamic Republic and their baseless claims about Iran's attempts to obtain nuclear program."

Speaking on the topic with the Fars news agency, Haqiqatpour said that "Iran and Egypt can switch on their joint activities in the nuclear field and Iran is ready to transfer its know-how and experience to Egypt."

Western diplomats have sought to downplay the importance of the summit and the start of Iran's three-year presidency of NAM, a body set up in 1961 to counter big power domination of international relations.

But 80 countries are participating in the summit at the level of minister or higher, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, with 50 sending their heads of government.

And the expected attendance of big players including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Morsi - the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution - will give the meeting diplomatic heft.

Since the toppling of Egypt's Western-backed President Hosni Mubarak last year, non-Arab Iran has hoped for a thaw in relations with the regional power, but Cairo has appeared less eager to embrace Shi'ite Muslim Iran which is viewed with suspicion by its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbors.

"The presence of the Egyptian president in Tehran will help develop Tehran-Cairo relations," Mehmanparast told reporters.