Egypt’s Morsi harsh on Syria at Tehran summit

Egypt’s Morsi harsh on Syria at Tehran summit

Egypt’s Morsi harsh on Syria at Tehran summit

Iranian President Ahmadinejad (2-R) talks to his foreign minister, Ali-Akbar Salehi (3-L), as Mohammed Morsi (R) delivers his speech during the NAN summit in Tehran. REUTERS photo

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi slammed the Syrian regime as “oppressive” and urged backing for rebels out to topple President Bashar al-Assad during his short trip to Iran after three decades.

In a clear rebuke to Syria’s key ally Iran, Morsi said yesterday at the Non-Aligned Movement summit that Bashar al-Assad’s “oppressive” regime has lost its legitimacy and that the world must stand behind the Syrian rebels.

“The bloodshed in Syria is our responsibility on all our shoulders and we have to know that the bloodshed cannot stop without effective interference from all of us,” Morsi said.

“We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom.” His comments prompted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to storm out of the meeting, complaining that Morsi was inciting fighters to “continue shedding Syrian blood.”

‘Interference in Syrian internal affairs’

“Morsi’s comments violated the traditions of the summit and are considered interference in Syrian internal affairs,” al-Muallem, who was heading the Syrian delegation, said.

Morsi also called for uniting the fractured Syrian opposition, which has not been able to agree on a clear transitional roadmap for governing the country if al-Assad should fall. The Egyptian president expressed Cairo’s readiness to work with all parties to stop the bloodshed and “agree on a clear vision on which the new free Syria will be based.” After the summit, Morsi met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They discussed the Syrian conflict and their states’ severed diplomatic ties in their first-ever bilateral meeting, an official said.

“They emphasized the need to solve the Syria crisis via diplomacy and to prevent foreign intervention,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told Iran’s Arabic-language broadcaster Al-Alam.

“They also discussed ways to boost the level of Tehran-Cairo relations,” he said. Morsi’s attendance was the first time a head of state from Egypt set foot in Iran since the two countries broke off diplomatic ties in the wake of Tehran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Morsi’s visit marks a cautious shift in Egypt’s approach to Iran, which his ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak had suspected of trying to destabilize his regime.