Iran Offers to Help Egypt amid Rafah Chaos

A00681361.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – 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 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 on 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 on 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 War against Iran. Since then, the two countries have had limited diplomatic contacts.

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