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Egypt's President Morsi attends summit in Iran

Egypt's Mohamed Morsi is in Iran for the first visit by an Egyptian leader in over 30 years. He opened a summit of non-aligned countries at which Iran is seeking more international support.

Mohamed Morsi received a red carpet welcome for his visit which has been described as a breakthrough in relations. Diplomatic ties between Cairo and Tehran were cut off in 1979 following the revolution in Iran.

The fall-out had two reasons. Egypt had supported the Shah, Iran's leader, who had just been overthrown. Tehran also objected to a Israeli-Egyptian peace-agreement which had just been signed by Cairo.

President Morsi was due to stay in Tehran only for a few hours. But he has indicated that he is aiming for a shift in foreign policy from that of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in Egypt's popular uprising last year. Morsi's spokesman Yasser Ali said that Egypt wanted to develop more "balanced foreign relations" and to build closer ties with China, Iran, African and Gulf nations

Iran assumes NAM presidency

Morsi hands over the rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned movement (NAM) to Iran at the Tehran summit, which was spread over two days.

Iran sees its tenure of the movement as a means to show that it has not been isolated as a result of criticism by the United States and other countries for its nuclear policy.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is attending the summit in Tehran as an observer, a fact that has been criticized strongly by the United States and Israel.

NAM was founded at the time of the Cold War in 1961 as a grouping independent of the then-rival Western and Soviet blocs. It has 120 members, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Debate on the situation in Syria is expected to dominate the summit agenda.

rg/ipj (dpa, Reuters, AFP)