Iran blames Israel for tensions with Egypt
'The Zionist regime will not succeed with this political plot,' says Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki as Tehran pins blame for escalating tensions with Cairo on Israel. Meanwhile Hizbullah also takes swing at Egypt, saying its accusations are lies intended to discredit the group ahead of the general elections in Lebanon
Iran dismissed on Wednesday Egyptian accusations against Lebanon's Shi'ite militia Hizbullah as an "old trick" aimed at influencing the Lebanese election this year, new agencies reported.
"Labels against ... Hizbullah and (its chief) Hassan Nasrallah are an old and frayed trick and will not achieve anything," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
Mottaki was reacting to Egypt's announcement it had arrested a Hizbullah cell accused of plotting attacks in the country and accused Iran of using the Shi'ite group to gain a foothold in Egypt.
Mottaki also accused Israel and "hands from outside the region" of seeking to "create problems" in Lebanon's parliamentary election to be held in June.
"The Zionist regime will not succeed in this political plot," he said.
'This will result in backlash against Egypt'
Meanwhile Hizbullah's deputy chief said on Wednesday that Egyptian accusations against the Lebanese militant group were baseless and part of a political ploy to discredit the movement.
"It has become clear to everyone that these accusations are fabricated... and that they are worthless," Sheikh Naim Qassem told AFP in an exclusive interview.
"The Egyptian regime wants revenge and is seeking to sully Hizbullah's image", he added.
"This whole thing is politically motivated and will result in a backlash against the Egyptian regime."
Cairo last week announced it had arrested a Hizbullah cell on charges of plotting attacks in the country and has accused Iran of using the Shiite group to gain a foothold in Egypt.
Qassem confirmed that one of the men arrested was a Hizbullah operative but stressed that his mission was solely to provide assistance to Palestinian militants in Gaza.
"We have one enemy called Israel and as far as we are concerned Egypt is not an enemy," he said.
"Egypt's accusations are in revenge for our position on Gaza and our demand that the Rafah border crossing be opened."
Hizbullah, backed by Iran and Syria, is a vocal supporter of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, and has lashed out at Egypt for closing its border crossing with the Palestinian enclave.
Egypt and Iran broke off diplomatic relations a year after Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the pro-Western shah of Iran in 1979.