In a meeting with Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated on Monday that he would “welcome” the resumption of diplomatic relations with Egypt.
This announcement signals a potential thaw in the strained ties between Tehran and Cairo, which deteriorated after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and Egypt’s recognition of Israel, Iran’s arch-nemesis.
During the meeting, Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik conveyed Egypt’s willingness to restore relations with the Islamic Republic, prompting Khamenei’s positive response.
According to Khamenei’s official website, he stated, “We welcome the Omani Sultan’s statement about Egypt’s willingness to resume relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we have no problem in this regard.”
The Egyptian foreign ministry has not yet provided any comment on this matter, and AFP’s attempts to reach them were unsuccessful.
This development comes against the backdrop of significant shifts in the Middle East, spurred by a China-mediated reconciliation between regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran, which was announced in March.
Consequently, there has been a notable improvement in relations between Iran, a Shiite Muslim power, and other predominantly Sunni Arab states.
During the meeting, Khamenei also emphasized the importance of enhancing cooperation between Oman and Iran, highlighting their shared control over the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz.
“It is important to increase cooperation between Oman and Iran because the two countries share the very important waterway of the Strait of Hormuz,” Khamenei stated.
The visit of Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik follows a recent prisoner exchange facilitated by Oman between Iran and Belgium.
Iranian authorities released Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who had been held for nearly 15 months, in exchange for diplomat Assadollah Assadi, detained in Belgium for his alleged involvement in a 2018 plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris.
In addition to meeting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Omani sultan held talks with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.
President Raisi expressed optimism regarding the improvement of bilateral relations in various areas, including industry, defense, and security affairs.
Raisi stated, “Tehran and Muscat have common views on regional cooperation, strengthening and stabilizing the security, peace, and prosperity of the nations of the region.”
During the two-day visit, four memorandums of understanding and agreements promoting investment were signed, reflecting the desire to enhance economic ties between Iran and Oman.
Oman has a history of close relations with Iran and has played a mediating role between Tehran and the United States, particularly during the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The visit of Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik to Iran marks the first trip by an Omani sultan since 2013 when Qaboos bin Said Al Said visited Tehran during Hassan Rouhani’s presidency.
It is worth noting that the 2015 nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna during Rouhani’s tenure.