Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Mursi on Wednesday to wish the Muslim Brotherhood politician success and to invite him to a summit in Tehran, the Egyptian state news agency reported.
The call appeared to be the first contact between the two leaders since Mursi was sworn in as president of Egypt, a country which has not had diplomatic relations with Tehran for 30 years.
Ahmadinejad invited Mursi to attend a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement scheduled to be held in Tehran on Aug. 29, the state news agency said, quoting Mursi’s spokesman. It did not say whether he had accepted.
Ties between Cairo and Tehran were severed in 1980 following Iran’s Islamic revolution and Egypt’s recognition of Israel.
Mursi has denied giving an interview to Iran’s Fars news agency which had quoted him as voicing interest in restoring the long-severed ties between the countries. Mursi’s spokesman said last week the interview never took place and that Mursi would file a lawsuit against the news agency.
Fars had quoted him as saying he was interested in better relations with Tehran, Reuters reported. “This will create a balance of pressure in the region, and this is part of my program.”
Fars had noted that Mursi said the issue of Palestinian refugees returning to homes their families abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the 1967 Six-Day War “is very important.”
He added though that “all these issues will be carried out through cabinet and governmental bodies because I will not take any decision on my own.”
Fars also quoted Mursi as saying that he wants to “reconsider” the peace deal with Israel, according to AFP. Reuters also quoted Mursi as saying the same statement.
Iran has previously hailed Mursi’s victory over former air force commander Ahmed Shafiq in Egypt’s first free presidential election as a “splendid vision of democracy” that marked the country’s “Islamic Awakening.”
Mursi, however, is striving to reassure Egypt’s Western allies wary about Islamists coming to power, and Gulf states that are suspicious of Iranian influence, and is unlikely to stage major foreign policy reversals so soon after taking office.
Meanwhile, Mursi is pushing ahead on Wednesday with his plan of selecting a government
“The search for a prime minister is still ongoing 10 days after Mursi was officially declared president,” Egypt Independent reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper said that Islamist parties had begun to debate nominees for ministerial posts. The Salafi al-Nour party, an ultra-conservative branch of Islamists, has proposed a technocrat for the post, and requested that Mursi assign the ministries of communications, industry and endowments to the party, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood’s the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) “said it had not yet been agreed whether the new government would consist of technocrats or a coalition of various parties,” the newspaper stated citing an unnamed FJP source.
The source also said that the Brotherhood’s political wing had nominated technocrats for the foreign affairs and education ministries.
But “political sources close to the presidency said Mursi may request members of the current government to continue serving in their positions for the next three months,” Egypt Independent added.
Mursi has already announced plans to name a woman and a Christian among his deputies, as he seeks to form an administration to heal the rifts that polarized the country after last year’s revolt.
Seeking to broaden support before the handover of power from the military council last weekend, Mursi, 60, held talks last week with youth groups and party leaders, and met with members of the Christian minority and the families of those killed in the uprising.
Mursi was sworn into office before the Supreme Constitutional Court on Saturday as the country’s first civil president.
On Sunday, Mursi held his first ministerial meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri. The meeting addressed the latest developments on Egypt’s security and economy, reported the state’s Middle East News Agency.