Meeting with the head of the Iranian Interests Office in Cairo
On June 7th 2018, Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, Chairman of the Council and Ambassador Ezzat Saad, Director of the Council, received Ambassador Nasser Kanani, Head of the Office of the Interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Cairo, at the headquarters of the Council in Maadi, where the meeting addressed the following:
1) Ambassador Mounir Zahran welcomed the guest, referring to the role and activities of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and being an independent non-governmental organization working within the framework of the Egyptian laws and receiving no external funding in accordance with its rules and regulations. He then gave the floor to the head of the Iranian office.
2) The Head of the Office indicated that he had been in Cairo for a month and that he had been in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 25 years. Most of his years were in the Central Asian and Former Soviet republics. He also worked in Jordan and as a representative in the Iranian National Security Council. He added:
· He praised the role of Egypt, its civilization, its historical and cultural weight and the appreciation of the Iranian people for that, stressing that there are common denominators between the two countries in this regard, allowing the possibility of building on them.
· He added that he met with the, head of the Egyptian Interests Section in Tehran before his visit to Cairo, where he discussed with him bilateral relations in various aspects, pointing out the need to activate these relations as well as coordination and joint consultation on regional issues, especially the Syrian file.
· The Iranian guest was keen to emphasize the special importance of the cultural relations between the two countries, pointing out the cooperation between Al-Azhar and the religious authority in Iran and the relations between the two historical institutions during the Shah’s rule and their role in bringing the sects closer to Islam. In this context, he pointed out that most of the religious authorities in Iran have positive impressions of Al-Azhar and wish to revive their relations with him, and they asked the head of the Office to work on this during his work in Cairo.
· He said that while they understand the current conditions in Egypt and their keenness not to cause trouble for them, there is a need to resolve and revive bilateral relations and cooperate on resolving the crises of the region by activating contacts between the two countries in various fields.
· On this point, the guest concluded that he proposes to establish a kind of informal dialogue, under what is known as Track II diplomacy, between the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and the Center for Strategic and Foreign Affairs Studies, supervised by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution and headed by Mr. Kamal Kharazi, Former representative of Iran to the United Nations in New York and former foreign minister. He added that this practice exists between them and many European countries and Saudi Arabia itself, despite the poor relations with them, stressing that there are no caveats in this regard and that this proposal has been transferred to colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
· The head of the office indicated that the head of the Egyptian Interests office in Tehran enjoys full freedom to conduct contacts and meetings with officials of foreign affairs and parliament. He was received by Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif after his arrival in Tehran, while he finds it difficult to meet with the Foreign Minister in Cairo.
3) The Chairman of the Council, as a personal representative, welcomed the proposal of the head of the Iranian office, explaining that during his tenure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he personally had an informal dialogue with the Permanent Representative of Iran in Geneva to restore relations with Iran in the early 1990s. Iran’s parliament has issued an anti-Egyptian statement in Iran’s parliament, thwarting efforts to restore diplomatic ties. and the second time the Iranian side maintained the name of one of the main streets against the desire of Egypt, especially since the accused of terrorism and convicted by a court judgment.The President of the Council commended the Iranian position on the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran not to escalate the position of the nuclear agreement with the group p5 + 1, stressing the need to stick to it by Tehran
4) Ambassador Ezzat Saad asked the Iranian guest to learn about the developments of the Syrian file and the dimensions of the growing tension between Israel and Iran in connection with the Iranian military presence in Syria and the reality of the Russian position in this regard. In this regard, the Iranian guest explained the following:
· The Syrian file has become a complicated file, and all its interpretation of what is happening there, and on the field there is great progress in favor of the Syrian regime, and with the exception of limited military operations here and there, the file is completely political. There is a conviction among all parties that the solution of the Syrian crisis is political, and that armed extremist militias can no longer regain their former status. He added that what is going on from the Western alliance is to try to make political use of their continued support for extremist militias.
· He noted that the United States did not participate in the last meeting of the Astana Group, the first meeting after Washington withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal. The Iranian guest believes that the path of Astana is the most important compared to the Geneva process, despite the limited number of parties. He noted that the Sochi platform plays a significant role in the Syrian dialogue with the participation of all the Syrian opposition and the regime.
· The current tension in Syria exists only in two areasfirst on the Turkish-Syrian border and the second on the Syrian-Israeli border.
· He Hinted that Iran has strategic cooperation with Russia in Syria, and that there is not necessarily a convergence in their views on each state’s position of other issues such as relations with Israel or relations with the West. However, in general, Moscow does not support Israel’s position on the Syrian file.
· Excludes any political intention of Israel, and no possibility, to wage war against Iran or its allies in the region, and what is happening between the two countries is a kind of hit and run.