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Egyptian president to visit Iran

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
updated 2:23 PM EDT, Sun August 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • It would be the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian leader since the Iran revolution in 1979
  • President Morsy set to arrive in Tehran on August 30 for Non-Aligned Movement summit
  • Morsy recently proposed Iran be included in a group to mediate an end to Syria's civil war

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy will visit Iran to take part in the Non-Aligned Movement summit at the end of August, a presidential adviser said.

It would be the first visit to Tehran by an Egyptian leader since Iran's Islamic revolution and Egypt's signing of the Camp David peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Morsy will arrive in Tehran on August 30 on his way back to Cairo from a visit to China, according to the adviser, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Morsy became the first democratically elected president in Egypt's history in June, the candidate of the Freedom and Justice party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing.

Word of his planned visit comes as the United States is tightening sanctions on Iran amid persistent tension and concern over Tehran's nuclear program.

Morsy recently proposed that Iran, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, be included in a group to mediate an end to Syria's civil war.

Before the ouster last year of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt sided with Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Sunni-dominated Arabian Gulf States toward the isolation of Shiite-led Iran.

Cairo University political science professor Safwat Allam said it is "a natural progression for Morsy to restore relations with Iran to serve the interests of both countries."

"Improving relations with Iran will establish Egypt's leading role in the region and set a balance between the Sunni-Shiite religious presence," Allam said.

While Egypt and Iran have conducted low-level diplomatic relations for years, higher-level relations would "give Morsy a bargaining chip to pressure the Americans into strategic decisions revolving around the region's political future," he said. "He can also mediate between Shiite-led Iran, Sunni-dominated Saudi at a time where the relations between the two nations are withering."

The Non-Aligned Movement includes 120 countries that claim not to be aligned with any world power.

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