Egypt halts Iran FM visit over peace talks comments

 AFP – Egypt said Thursday it has postponed a visit to Cairo by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki over comments criticising the role of some Arab leaders in facilitating Middle East peace talks.

The head of the Iranian interests section in Cairo was summoned to explain comments attributed to Mottaki in which he criticised “the participation of certain Arab leaders in the relaunch of direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis in Washington,” the foreign ministry said.


The ministry informed the Iranian diplomat that “due to this development” the meeting in Cairo on Monday of the Non-Aligned Movement “troika” — Iran, Egypt and Cuba — has been postponed, the ministry said.

It was not immediately clear to which remarks of the Iranian foreign minister the Egyptian ministry was referring.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan support the restart of direct peace talks between the two parties, and both of them are in Washington to participate in that.

On Monday, Mottaki was quoted by the Fars news agency as criticising Palestinian leaders supporting the peace talks but made no mention of any Arab leaders in particular.

“Some Palestinian leaders, who are for compromise, are these days following an order from America and building the table of negotiation with heads of the Zionist regime,” Mottaki was quoted as saying in a speech.

“They should know that they are traitors to the Palestinian people and the negotiation is a nail in the coffin of (those who support) compromise.”

Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the peace talks, saying they will fail to resolve conflict in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad, in an interview to Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam Television on Wednesday, called for the Islamic movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, to be involved in any Middle East peace talks as it is “the most official representative of Palestinians.”
Hamas vehemently opposes the Washington talks and its armed wing has claimed two attacks on Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank since Tuesday in which four Israelis were killed and two wounded.

Ties between Tehran and Cairo have been severed since 1980 in the wake of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

Since then the two countries have only maintained interest sections in each other’s capitals.

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