PM Essam Sharaf: Egypt to have fresh start with Iran

Egypt is opening a new chapter in its relations with Iran, Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said Monday during a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Following talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh, Sharaf said that Egypt will have a fresh start in relations with all countries, including Iran.

He said that interference in the affairs of Gulf countries is a red line and that Gulf security is important for Egypt's security.

Sharaf welcomed the release of some Egyptian detainees in Saudi Arabia, saying it was expected because of Egypt's strong relations with the kingdom.

Sharaf said a visit to the United Arab Emirates was postponed because of other Emirati commitments. He pledged, however, to visit the UAE along with Bahrain and Oman during his next Gulf tour.

New reports had claimed a souring of relations between Egypt and the UAE due to signs that Egypt was developing closer relations with Iran. The Emirati Ambassador to Egypt, however, said relations between the Egypt and the UAE remain strong.

Observers believe that normalizing relations with Iran and strengthening ties to Syria would drive away Egypt's traditional allies, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sharaf pledged to visit the Upper Egyptian city of Qena as soon as he returns to Egypt, and added that he understands the demands of its residents, who have been calling for the removal of their newly-appointed governor.

He said the government would adopt new ways to choose leaders for all positions, including local councils.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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