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Egypt and Iran leaders hold historic meeting

The leaders of Egypt and Iran have held the first presidential-level talks between the two countries in more than 30 years. It signals a major shift in foreign policy for both countries.

Iran's Madmoud Ahmadinejad and Egypt's Mohammad Morsi hold talks in Iran.

Iran Mahmud Ahmadinedschad und Mohammed Mursi

The meeting between Egypt's Mohammad Morsi and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took place on the sidelines of the summit of non-aligned countries in Tehran.

The topics of discussion included the need for an end to the Syria crisis, and the two countries' severed diplomatic ties. The leaders reportedly agreed that Egypt and Iran were "strategic partners" in the region.

The two countries have had no formal contact or ties since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.

"Iran sees in Egypt a strategic partner and believes that it would be to the benefit of all states if Iran and Egypt would be beside each other," Ahmadinejad is reported to have told Morsi during the meeting.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the country's Al-Alam broadcaster that the leaders discussed ways to boost the level of relations between Tehran and Cairo, and that the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere.

After the meeting, Ahmadinejad issued a statement in which Morsi was quoted as saying that the Syrian crisis could only be resolved "with the help of influential countries in the region like Iran."

The meeting follows Morsi's opening speech at the summit, during which the Syrian delegation walked out as he called for urgent intervention against President Bashar Assad's regime. He also compared the conflict there to Egypt's own recent past.

"The revolution in Egypt is the cornerstone for the Arab Spring, which started days after Tunisia and then it was followed by Libya and Yemen and now the revolution in Syria against its oppressive regime," he said.

However, this contradicted Iran and Syria's own position on the uprising. Both countries view the conflict in Syria as being the result of a "terrorist" plot masterminded by the United States and other foreign countries.

jr/pfd (AFP, dpa)