In the latest move to restore their relations, senior economic officials of Iran and Egypt held a high-level meeting in the Egyptian capital. Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ehsan Khandouzi and the Egyptian Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait discussed the expansion of economic ties between the two countries in Cairo.

The Iranian minister arrived in Cairo on Sunday at the head of a delegation to attend the 8th annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

In his meeting with Maait, Khandouzi pinpointed certain economic sectors for cooperation, signaling the prioritization of the economy over political affairs. He voiced readiness for developing banking cooperation with Egypt as well as transferring pharmaceutical technology and medical equipment to the most populous Arab country.

Cooperation in the field of customs and tariffs and support of banks to businessmen and investors were also among the subjects that were agreed upon by the ministers of the two countries.

The Iranian official also expressed willingness to cooperate with Egypt in establishing joint banks, and shipping companies.

Khandouzi also put forth the idea of forming a joint committee between the two ministries to follow up on the projects discussed, something that is indicative of the will of the two countries to press ahead with normalizing their relations. 

The Egyptian minister, for his part, pointed out that Cairo considers it important to develop relations with Tehran, expressing hope to see the improvement of relations between the two countries soon.

The meeting comes after months of diplomatic efforts to normalize Iran-Egypt ties, which also involved Oman as a mediator. 

Iran and Egypt have been involved in talks in recent months to patch up their relations. Oman and Iraq have played a mediatory role in this regard, something that Iran has welcomed. Earlier, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman traveled to Egypt and Iran. During his visit to Tehran, he broached the issue of Egypt, which was welcomed by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

During his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, Sultan Haitham pointed to Egypt’s willingness to resume relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response to this, Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized that Iran welcomes this position and has no problems in this regard.

Recently, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met in New York with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, to take stock of the progress made in restoring ties. 

In their meeting, the two top diplomats held positive and fruitful talks over issues of mutual interest.

Given the civilizational and historical background as well as cultural commonalities of the two countries and in line with common interests, they stressed that it is necessary that the way be paved and steps be taken to that end through ongoing negotiations between the officials of both countries, according to a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry.

They also emphasized that the enhancement of Iran-Egypt relations and cooperation will not only serve the interests of the two countries but also have positive effects on the region.

By Mehran Shamsuddin

First published in Tehran Times