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Iran And Egypt Reportedly In Secret Talks Over Regional Tensions

File photo - During a brief period of a thaw in relations Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Kamel Amr (L) talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (R) during a joint press conference after their first high-level meeting on the Syria conflict on Monday in Cairo

Citing unidentified "high-level Egyptian sources", Iranian state-run Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported on Tuesday, June 18 that Tehran- Cairo contacts have recently taken place as a result of escalating tensions in the region, including the attack on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman last Thursday.

"Cairo has recently opened a line of communication with Tehran, revealing that Iranian officials visited the Egyptian capital last week, and held talks with senior leaders of the General Intelligence Service," MNA asserted.

The talks also dealt with the situation in Gaza and Yemen and the recent attacks on Abha and Najran Airports in Saudi Arabia, MNA said.

Still, without identifying its sources, MNA said, "Cairo does not believe in Tehran's involvement in the recent attack on oil tankers, but at the same time does not exclude Tehran from responsibility for rocket attacks carried out by Ansar Allah on Saudi airports."

Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted Saudi installations and airports with missiles and drones.

Egypt has close relations with Saudi Arabia that has often come to Egypt's financial rescue with assistance in the past seven years.

Earlier, an Arabic website, Al Arabi al Jadid, had also quoted "a number" of high-level Egyptian officials saying that following recent tensions in the Persian Gulf several Iranian officials visited Cairo.

High-level Egyptian and Iranian intelligence authorities met and held talks in Cairo, al Arabi al Jadid noted.

The talks were limited to intelligence issues, the site insisted.

Iran and Egypt have not yet reacted to the reports and MNA might have just recycled Arabi al Jadid's original report.

Tehran and Cairo have longstanding disputes over several issues, including Egypt's signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1979, its support for Baghdad in the devastating Iran-Iraq war, Tehran's praise for Khalid Islambouli, the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassin, and close Egyptian relations with the United States.

For years during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak Iran and Egypt had no diplomatic relations.

Immediately after the resignation of President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, newly elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi made a historic first visit to Tehran to attend the 2012 Non-Aligned Movement summit on, where it handed over the rotating presidency to Iran. However, Morsi left Tehran without meeting the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, Morsi's short-lived presidency and his visit to Tehran appeared to signal a new era in relations.

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also visited Egypt in February 2013, making him the first Iranian president to travel to Egypt since the anti-West Islamic Revolution in Iran.

In March 2013, direct flights between the two countries resumed. In July 2013, after the uprising and subsequent overthrow that removed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government, the interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nabil Fahmy announced that Egypt seeks stable and positive ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran but there has been little sign of increased cooperation.

Despite numerous high-level contacts between Tehran and Cairo, full diplomatic relations have not been restored