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A delegation of Egyptian military officials and Muslim Brotherhood political leaders are set to quietly meet in Tehran with Iranian officials to discuss closer strategic collaboration between the two countries, according to an Egyptian military official who spoke to WND.
The official said the Egyptian delegation will be in Tehran today as part of the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit, which Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is slated to attend.
The delegation consists of both Egyptian military leaders and senior Muslim Brotherhood strategists, said the official.
The dialogue marks a major departure from the traditional Egyptian-Iranian relationship under ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
Mubarak was deeply hostile to Iran’s Shiite fundamentalist leadership, viewing Tehran as part of an axis that opposed Egypt’s more moderate secular Sunni outlook. President Obama supported the removal of Mubarak from power, a policy that contributed to the loss of the Egyptian president’s international backing during the revolution targeting his regime.
Weeks after Mubarak’s downfall, two Iranian naval ships were reportedly granted permission to sail through the Egypt-controlled Suez Canal. It was the first time since the 1970s that Iranian ships had passed through the strategic waterway.
While the Iran-Egypt talks mark a new phase in the relationship between the two countries, the Egyptian military official who spoke to WND did not foresee the dialogue bringing any major changes.
The official said the Muslim Brotherhood, which espouses strict Sunni Islam, has been challenging the dominance of Iran in the region, in particular in Syria, where the Brotherhood has been a major supporter of the opposition targeting Bashar Assad’s regime. Assad is considered the main ally of Iran in the Middle East.
Morsi’s trip to Iran comes after reports this week that the Egyptian president declined an offer to visit Israel.
A day after Avigdor Leiberman, Israel’s foreign minister, called on Morsi to visit Israel, a Muslim Brotherhood official said that such an event is impossible.
“There is no possibility for Morsi to visit the Zionist entity,” Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party told an Egyptian online news magazine, according to reports.
“President Morsi’s patriotism will not allow him to do so,” Heshmat added, explaining Morsi’s official would turn down any official invitation from the Jewish state.