A serving President of Iran has arrived in Egypt for the first time in 34 years. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Cairo to take part in the 12th International Summit of the Islamic Countries. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met Ahmadinejad and held brief talks with him in the VIP hall at the airport.
Iran cut its relations with Egypt when the then President Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1978. Tehran also took a negative stand against Egypt when it gave asylum and state funeral for the exiled Shah after the Islamic Revolution. They resumed diplomatic relations after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which was followed by a visit to Tehran last August by Mohamed Morsi.
President Ahmadinejad is being accompanied by his senior advisor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. They were joined by Iran's ambassador to Egypt, Mojtaba Amani, in their meeting with Morsi. The group is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday on the fringe of the summit, when they will discuss bilateral relations.
"I will try to pave the way for developing co-operation between Iran and Egypt," Ahmadinejad told the official Iranian News Agency. "If Tehran and Cairo see eye-to-eye on regional and international issues, many things will change."
The Iranian president will also meet the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, and the heads of several Egyptian media organisations during his visit, as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Analysts believe that Morsi, who is trying to widen international support for the Egyptian revolution, will exercise caution in the talks due to the different approaches the countries have towards the conflict in Syria and Iran's support for some members of the Egyptian opposition.