Report: Egypt Turns Down U.S. Request to Inspect Iranian Arms Ship on Way to Syria

Suez Canal Authority chairman tells Al-Ahram newspaper Egyptian navy refuses to inspect ship's cargo; President Morsi to attend Tehran summit later this month.

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Egypt has recently turned down a U.S. request to stop an Iranian ship carrying weapons to Syria, according to a report in Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper.

According to the report, quoted in Israel Radio on Sunday, Lieutenant General Mohab Mamish, Suez Canal Authority chairman, said Egypt's navy refused to stop the ship and inspect its cargo as it was passing through the canal.

Last week, an Egyptian official said President Mohammed Morsi will attend a summit in Iran later this month, the first such trip for an Egyptian leader since relations with Tehran deteriorated decades ago.

The visit could mark a thaw between the two countries after years of enmity, especially since Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic revolution.

Under Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, Egypt, predominantly Sunni Muslim, sided with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab states in trying to isolate Shiite-led Iran.

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.

Iranian naval ships near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran, January 3, 2012.Credit: Reuters

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