May 20, 2013 | 10:39 PM (BD Time)
20 May, 2013 Monday
Iran is vital to end crisis in Syria : Mursi
. Reuters, Cairo
Egypt's Islamist President said on Saturday that having a strong relationship with Iran is important for Egypt at this time to be able to work out a way to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Speaking in a televised interview, his first to state TV since his election last June, President Mohamed Mursi described Iran as "a main player in the region that could have an active and supportive role in solving the Syrian problem."
Mursi, in a move to revive Egypt's role in the region, asked last month for Iran to join a quartet committee he called for which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt to try to find a solution to the violence in Syria.
Iran is the only state in the quartet that is an ally to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all demanded that Assad step down. Iran was attacked at the U.N. Security Council last week for its continuous backing of the Syrian regime.
"I don't see the presence of Iran in this quartet as a problem, but is a part of solving the (Syrian) problem," Mursi said, explaining that Iran's close proximity to Syria and its strong ties with it makes it "vital" in resolving the Syrian crisis.
Mursi's comments came after Saudi Arabia stayed away from the quartet's last meeting, which Cairo hosted on September 17. Saudi Arabia's decision was seen by diplomats and western officials as a reaction to the presence of Shi'ite Muslim Iran, the major rival of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on why it did not attend that meeting and Egyptian officials gave conflicting explanations for its absence.
Mursi said he could meet with top officials of the three states of the Quartet during the United Nations general assembly meeting he will attend in New York this week.
"And we do not have a significant problem with Iran, it (the relation between Egypt and Iran) is normal like with the rest of the world's states," said Mursi who last month became the first Egyptian president to visit the Islamic republic in decades.
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