BEIRUT

Middle East

Iran visit by Egypt leader still stirs debate

Egypt's President Mohammad Mursi with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30, 2012. (REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout)

TEHRAN, Iran: Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi's visit to Iran last month is still stirring debate in the Iranian parliament.

Lawmaker Ali Mohammad Bozorgvari lashed out at Mursi on Sunday for failing to meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his August visit.

At the time, Mursi attended the meeting of 120-nation Nonaligned Movement in Tehran but stayed in Iran only for a few hours.

Bozorgvari told lawmakers that during a Muslim leaders' summit in Saudi Arabia earlier in August, Mursi met the Saudi king but didn't meet Khamenei while in Iran. The lawmaker called the Saudi monarch a "dirty and (pro-) American" ruler.

Mursi's Iran visit was the first by an Egyptian president in decades. In a speech in Tehran, he attacked Iran's key ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and called it "oppressive."

The Egyptian Islamist leader also said Assad has lost legitimacy as president amid the civil war, which activists say has left more than 23,000 people dead in Syria, and should step down.

Also Sunday, foreign ministry official Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Iran would welcome Mursi's proposal on a four-nation contact group that would spearhead a new peace initiative for Syria's conflict, reported the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Mursi's proposal - which named Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran as the four nations to lead the push - was dismissed by Syrian rebels as a dead end because of Iran's inclusion.

But Amir Abdollahian also criticized Mursi for his anti-Assad remarks, saying the Egyptian president should have a "realistic attitude" toward developments in Syria.

Syria has come under deep international isolation because of its escalating civil war although it still has the iron support - including weapons shipments - from allies in Russia and Iran.

Iran has repeatedly denied any military support to Syria.

 

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