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Iran leader says he would ‘welcome’ resumed ties with Egypt

By AFP - May 29,2023 - Last updated at May 29,2023

This handout photo provided by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him (right) during a meeting with Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said (centre) in the presence of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in Tehran, on Monday (AFP photo)

TEHRAN — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday he would welcome a resumption of diplomatic relations with Egypt, during a meeting with Oman’s visiting Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik.

Ties between Tehran and Cairo soured following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and Egypt’s recognition of Israel, the Islamic republic’s sworn enemy.

Khamenei said that the Omani leader had told him that Egypt would be willing to resume relations.

“We welcome the Omani Sultan’s statement about Egypt’s willingness to resume relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and we have no problem in this regard,” Khamenei said, according to his official website.

AFP could not immediately reach the Egyptian foreign ministry for comment.

Recent months have seen sweeping shifts in the Middle East, following a China-brokered rapprochement between regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran announced in March.

It has led to improved ties between Shiite Muslim power Iran and other majority Sunni Arab states.

Khamenei also called for a deepening of ties between Oman and Iran.

“It is important to increase cooperation between Oman and Iran because the two countries share the very important waterway of the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.

The sultan’s trip comes just days after a prisoner swap between Iran and Belgium that was facilitated by Oman, a long-time mediator between Iran and the West.

Tehran freed Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele after almost 15 months in custody in exchange for diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was held in Belgium over accusations of involvement in a 2018 plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris.

The sultan on Sunday met Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi who said bilateral relations could improve in areas including industry and “defence and security affairs”, the presidency’s website said.

“Tehran and Muscat have common views on regional cooperation, strengthening and stabilising the security, peace and prosperity of the nations of the region,” Raisi was quoted as saying.

Four memorandums of understanding and agreements on promoting investment were signed during the sultan’s two-day visit that came a year after Raisi visited Muscat, according to Iranian and Omani official media.

Oman has close ties with Iran and also played a mediating role between Tehran and the United States in the build-up to a nuclear deal Iran and world powers reached in 2015.

The last visit by an Omani sultan to Iran was in 2013 when Qaboos bin Said Al Said visited Tehran during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, who was in office when the 2015 nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna.

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