Morsi in Iran: NAM Summit Has a Duty to Protect Syrians From 'Oppressive Regime'

Newly elected Egyptian president makes comments in address to NAM conference in Tehran; Al Jazeera reports Syrian delegation to meet walks out during speech.

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has criticized Syria's regime during a visit to Syria's key ally Iran, reportedly prompting the Syrian delegation to walk out of a 120-member Nonaligned Movement in Tehran.

Speaking at the meeting, Morsi said it was NAM's "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people against what he said was Syria's "oppressive regime."

Morsi's visit to Iran on Thursday was the first by an Egyptian leader to the Islamic Republic in three decades. It represents a major thaw in relations between the two countries since Morsi, an Islamist, became president in June in the aftermath of the country's 2011 uprising.

But the two countries remain divided over Syria's crisis. Shiite Iran backs the Damascus regime while there is widespread sympathy in Egypt for the rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.

Morsi was attending a summit of the 120-member Nonaligned Movement. Egyptian officials have said they do not expect top-level bilateral meetings with their Iranian counterparts.

Al Jazeera television reported that the Syrian delegation to NAM walked out of the conference hall during Morsi's speech. The Arabic satellite channel did not give further details in its brief headline and it was not immediately clear if the delegation returned after Mursi's speech finished.

Mohammed Morsi - Reuters - 30.8.2012