EGYPT: Foreign Ministry summons Iranian diplomat, cancels minister's visit to Cairo
The Iranian charge d'affairs in Cairo has been summoned by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to explain recent comments attributed to the Islamic Republic's foreign minister, in which he criticized Palestinian leaders taking part in the direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"The Iranian charge d'affairs has been summoned for clarification on what his foreign minister said," Assistant Foreign Minister Wafaa Bassim was quoted as saying by Egypt's official Middle East News Agency on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, was quoted by Iran's Fars news agency as accusing certain Palestinian leaders – without identifying them –- of treason for their involvement in any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations carried out "upon U.S dictations," adding that those unnamed leaders have "betrayed their own people."
"Some Palestinian leaders, who are for compromise, are these days following an order from America and building the tables of negotiations with heads of the Zionist regime," Mottaki said.
"They should know that they are traitors to the Palestinian people and the negotiation is a nail in the coffin of compromise," he added.
Alongside President Obama, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II are both mediating the relaunch of direct peace talks, which began Thursday in Washington between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
The Egyptian foreign ministry has not referred to Mottaki's comments as the reason for summoning the Iranian envoy. The ministry also said Mottaki's planned visit to Egypt next week has been cancelled.
"In light of this development, it was decided to postpone the Non-Aligned Movement troika meeting next Monday in Cairo that the Iranian foreign minister was expected to attend to a date to be determined on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York," Bassim added.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Iranian Foreign Minisiter, Manouchehr Mottaki. Credit: Associated Press