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Iran's Deputy FM visits Egypt to deepen ties, seek solutions to Syrian crisis

By Shaimaa Behery (Xinhua)

20:36, April 01, 2013

CAIRO, April 1 (Xinhua)-- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Egypt to enhance bilateral ties and seek solutions to the Syrian crisis.

Abdollahian's arrival on Saturday coincided with the first flight launched from Cairo to Tehran in 34 years, as the bilateral ties started to be gradually developed after the upheaval in 2011 that toppled then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Medhat Hammad, Iranian affairs expert and head of Egyptian Center for Political and Developmental Studies, said Abdollahian's visit was primarily "to thank the Egyptian leadership on regaining tourism relations, to extend assurances that Iran only seeks for balanced relations without having any other agendas, and to rest Egypt there is no Iranian intention to diffuse Shiism in Egypt."

However, Hammad said that "It was too early to regain tourism relations with Iran now," adding that the Egyptian side should have waited until Salafists are assured that Iran would only seek diplomatic ties with no intention of spreading Shiism in Egypt.

Some Salafist forces are currently calling for staging demonstrations at the Cairo International Airport on Wednesday to protest the arrival of the first Iranian flight from Tehran to Cairo.

"The Salafists' irritation proves the Egyptian leadership's mistake when it started with the tourism cooperation in the way to regain the Iranin-Egyptian ties," Hammad said.

On the Syrian issue, the Iranian official met Saturday with the United Nations-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, the Arab League (AL) secretary General Nabil al-Arabi, as well as Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Sunday.

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