Egyptian police at Gaza border
Ahmadinejad. Spoke to Mubarak
Iran on Sunday offered to help Egypt deal with growing chaos on its breached border with Gaza, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said.
The offer came during a rare visit to Cairo by a top Iranian diplomat, Ali Asghar Mohammadi, who serves as the Iranian Foreign Ministry's director-general for Arab, Middle East and North African affairs. He met Sunday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Egypt and Iran have had no formal ties in nearly three decades, but government ministers from the two countries have met frequently in the past two months. Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, for the first time to discuss the Gaza border crisis.
Mohammadi offered Iran's "cooperation with Egypt to provide help to the Palestinians," said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki. He did not give details of the Iranian offer, but said Egypt welcomes cooperation between the two countries through their Red Crescent branches.
Five days ago, militants blew apart the border fence separating Egypt and the Gaza Strip, allowing tens of thousands of Palestinians to flow into Egyptian territory. The situation has garnered regional attention, with Arab foreign ministers holding an emergency meeting late Sunday about the matter.
Tehran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Relations further deteriorated when Egypt backed Iraq during the 1980-1988 Gulf War. Since then, the two countries have had limited diplomatic contacts.
Aboul Gheit has said that a resumption of ties could only take place if Iran takes down a large mural of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassin, Khaled el-Islambouli, and changes the name of a street honoring him.
El-Islambouli was one of the army officers who killed Sadat during a military parade in 1981. Egypt executed him by firing squad soon thereafter.