News / Middle East

Iranian, Egyptian Foreign Ministers Meet in Cairo

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during a news conference following his meeting with Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, in Cairo, January 10, 2013.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during a news conference following his meeting with Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, in Cairo, January 10, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi held meetings in Cairo Thursday with Egypt's president and foreign minister. Salehi was in the Egyptian capital to discuss the conflict in Syria and improving relations between Egypt and Iran.

The Salehi visit to Cairo comes amid rising tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites across the Middle East. A focal point of those tensions, the conflict in Syria, was at the top of his agenda as he met with top Egyptian and Arab League officials.

Salehi told journalists, during a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel al Amr, that Iran would like to see negotiations between the opposing sides in Syria begin quickly.

He said Iran would like to see talks between the Syrian government and the opposition start before it's too late, and that regional states sit down and talk, so as to find a solution between both sides and prevent foreign intervention.

In an interview with Egyptian TV, Salehi argued that Middle East states were “able to solve their own problems, without resorting to parties outside the region.”

Salehi, who speaks flawless Arabic, has attempted to bridge the Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian divide during visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, last year.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr said that a peace proposal by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, calling for Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to jointly negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict, was still on the table. He added that Iran has a key role to play:

He said there must be an understanding both between Syrians and among regional powers and that it must respond to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people, as was the case in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, in order to spare the Syrian people more bloodshed. Iran, he added, has a role to play in President Morsi's four-party diplomatic initiative.

A six-point Iranian plan to end the Syrian conflict had a cool reception in most Arab capitals. Saudi Arabia, which supports the Syrian rebels, has repeatedly refused to hold joint talks with Iran about Syria.

Iran analyst Gary Sick, who teaches at Columbia University, said Iranian diplomacy is trying hard to avoid a major Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in the region, but that the success of that diplomacy is rather limited:

"What Iran wants to do is pretty clear. They would like to tamp down that sense of a sectarian divide," he said."They would like to be a contributing part of the community, and that's what they're trying to do, and they're going keep trying to do it, but their success thus far has not been very great. They're doing their best, but their best may not be enough."

Foreign Minister Salehi also met with the sheikh of Egypt's venerable al Azhar University, as well as with the country's newly-elected Coptic pope. Analyst Sick said the visits are symbolic attempts to say that Iran is not a sectarian-oriented state.

Despite Iran's attempts to portray itself as a non-sectarian partner and neighbor, however, the Arab media has repeatedly complained about what it calls “Iranian meddling” in sectarian conflicts across the region, from Syria to Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and Lebanon.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs