World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohammed Morsy said in an interview with Iran's Fars news agency published on Monday that he wanted to expand ties with Tehran to create a strategic balance in the region.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been severed for more than 30 years, but both sides have signalled a shift in policy since former president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year in a popular uprising.
Fars quoted Morsy as saying better relations with Tehran "will create a balance of pressure in the region, and this is part of my programme".
Morsy's comments may unsettle Western powers as they seek to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, which they suspect Tehran is using to build atomic bombs. They cautiously welcomed the democratic process that led to Morsy's election, but made clear Egypt's stability was their main priority.
Fars said he was speaking a few hours before the result of the Egyptian election was announced on Sunday, and that a full version of the interview would be published later.
Asked to comment on reports that, if elected, his first state visit would be to Saudi Arabia, Morsy said: "I didn't say such a thing and until now my first international visits following my victory in the elections have not been determined".
Egypt's foreign minister said last year that Cairo was ready to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran, which has championed most Arab Spring uprisings as anti-Western rebellions inspired by its own Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The meeting is the first of the two absolute monarchs since a major rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia earlier this year and follows attempts by Doha to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
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