President-elect denies ever submitting to interview where he said he would review Israel treaty
by Roi Kais and Reuters
The art of denial: Egypt’s Islamist president-elect never submitted to an interview with Iranian news agency Fars in which he supposedly claimed that he would be reviewing the peace treaty with Israel, Mohammed Morsi‘s spokesman said Monday evening.
“Mr. Morsi did not submit to any interview with Fars,” the spokesman said, according to Egypt’s official MENA news agency. “Everything published by this agency is baseless.”
According to the report by Fars, Morsi said he wants to restore long-severed ties with Tehran to create a strategic “balance” in the region.
Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran were severed more than 30 years ago, but both countries have signalled a shift in policy since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year in a popular uprising.
“We must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region,” Morsi was quoted as saying in a transcript of the interview.
Fars said it had spoken to Morsi a few hours before the result of the vote was announced on Sunday.
Asked to comment on reports that, if elected, his first state visit would be to Riyadh, Morsi 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”.
Iran subsequently hailed Morsi’s victory over former general Ahmed Shafiq in Egypt’s first free presidential election as a “splendid vision of democracy” that marked the country’s final phase of an “Islamic Awakening”.
‘Peace with Israel will be reviewed’
In contrast to comments he made in a televised address after his victory was announced on Sunday, Fars news quoted Morsi as saying Egypt’s Camp David peace accord with Israel “will be reviewed”, without elaborating.
The peace treaty remains a lynchpin of US Middle East policy and, despite its unpopularity with many Egyptians, was staunchly upheld by Mubarak, who also suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood movement to which Morsy belongs.
Asked about his policy towards Israel, Morsi said that Egypt under his leadership will pursue an “egalitarian policy” matching the two countries’ status. He added that Cairo will discuss the restoration of Palestinian rights and review the Camp David agreements. He stressed he will not be making any decisions alone but rather in conjunction with the cabinet and other governmental agencies.
Morsi was declared Egypt’s first Islamist president on Sunday after the freest elections in the country’s history.
The election commission said Morsi won with 51.7% of last weekend’s run-off vote versus 48.3 for Shafiq. Turnout was 51%. Voter turnout in the first round stood at 46%.
In his first address to the nation, hours after being declared Egypt’s new president, Morsi pledged to “preserve international accords and obligations” – a reference to the peace deal with Israel.
However, Morsi did not specifically mention Israel or the 1979 treaty.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4246865,00.html