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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs