At first it was unclear whether Egypt’s president would be attending the summit or not. It was only during the past couple of weeks that word news broke confirming that Morsi would indeed attend.
This is a big deal as Iran and Egypt have severed ties since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Islamic Republic was once weary of the Shah’s strong ties to Egypt’s President, Anwar Sadat, as well as his reconciliation with the Israelis through the Camp David Accord. When Sadat was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists, a street in Tehran was named in honor of his assassin, Khalid Islambouli.
Prior to the Shah’s death, Egypt became the last country he sought exile in and the only country willing to take his body for burial. The Shah was buried in the al-Refa’i Mosque in Cairo next to his former in-laws, King Fouad and King Farouk I. These two instances, as well as other lesser-known political issues became the sore for Egyptian-Iranian relations until this day.
Before the announcement of Morsi’s attendance at the NAM Summit, there was a controversy over a supposed interview Egypt’s president gave to Iran’s Fars News Agency, speaking about the possibility of relations restarting. In the interview, Morsi reportedly said, “Part of my agenda is the development of ties between Iran and Egypt that will create a strategic balance in the region.” The Morsi Camp denied these allegations, saying that, “Mr Morsi did not give any interview to Fars and everything that this agency has published is without foundation.”
It would have seemed this specific incident might have hindered Morsi’s attendance at the Summit, but apparently it has not.
A high profile source in Egypt-Iran relations told me his visit this week to Iran was as significant as “President Nixon’s visit to China, but that does not mean it should be looked into too much.”
This seems to be the case, as according to Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser Ali, “The matter (of restoring diplomatic ties) is out of the question at this stage.” Unlike other foreign dignitaries, Egypt’s president will only be spending a few hours in Tehran on the 30th, only on his way from returning from his visit to China (That‘s a 36 hour visit), according to Al-Ahram newspaper.By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Columnist