CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit lashed out at the Iranian government on Sunday, accusing the Islamist regime of trying to dominate the Middle East.
Aboul Gheit s statement signaled an escalation in a simmering diplomatic dispute between the two countries, which have both vied for a dominant role in the region.
The Iranians are trying to spread and impose their specific ideology on the region, and they are using some of the Palestinians … for Iranian purposes, he said, in an apparent reference to the Palestinian group Hamas.
Earlier on Sunday, the foreign ministry rebuked former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani for criticizing Egypt s refusal to permanently open its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.
Rafah is the only crossing into Gaza not controlled by Israel, which imposed a blockade on the impoverished Palestinian coastal strip after Hamas seized power there last year.
Egypt s foreign policy will not play into the hands of Iran or the interests of some groups that have lost sight of the true objectives of the Palestinians, Aboul Gheit said.
Iran, together with Syria and Indonesia, will form an Islamic troika to help remove existing obstacles to the shipment of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the official Iranian news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted first vice speaker of the Iranian parliament, Muhammad Hassan Abu Turabi Fard, as saying.
A delegation for the group will be formed in the near future and will visit the countries that have joint borders with Gaza, Fard said. Egypt and Israel are the two countries bordering the Gaza Strip.
Egypt summoned an Iranian diplomat last week to protest demonstrations in front of the Egyptian interests section in Tehran and an ongoing campaign in the Iranian press which partly blames Egypt for the blockade.
The two countries broke off diplomatic relations a year after Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the pro-Western Shah of Iran in 1979.
Iran opposed Egypt s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and named a street in Tehran after the assassin of then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.-Agencies