Following a recent diplomatic agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran has turned its attention on improving relations with Egypt.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday that Iran would like to build “synergy” between the two countries.

“Egypt is an important country in the region and what the region needs is synergy between Iran and Egypt, and we believe in taking new steps to improve our relations,” Kanaani told the press. 

Egypt and Iran have had tense relations since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. The last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was ousted by Islamic revolutionaries in 1979. He sought refuge in Egypt, where he was buried after he died. 

Relations between Iran and Egypt further deteriorated after Iran named a street after the assassin who led a team to kill Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 following the 1979 signing of a peace agreement with Israel. 

Several Islamic groups in Egypt were upset with Sadat, but Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which had ties with the Iranian regime, is believed to be instrumental in his assassination. 

Egypt never closed its embassy in Tehran, unlike Saudi Arabia; however, it is not staffed by an ambassador, but only a charge d’affaires. 

While Egypt is a very important Arab nation, with a population of more than 100 million and with several important Sunni institutions of learning, some analysts believe that the aim of the Shiite-majority state of Iran is primarily to weaken U.S. influence in the region. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on Kanaani’s statement. 

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