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Egypt's Mohamed Morsi wants to renew ties with Iran

Egypt's president-elect Mohamed Morsi, a hard-line Islamist, says he wants tor restore ties to Iran. Iran hailed Mursi's victory as an "Islamic Awakening."

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The Muslim Brotherhood's president-elect Mohamed Morsi speaks during his first televised address to the nation at the Egyptian Television headquarters in Cairo June 24, 2012.

Reuters

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Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Morsi voiced interest in restoring long-severed ties with Tehran to create a strategic "balance" in the region, in an interview published on Monday with Iran's Fars news agency.

Morsi's comments are likely to unsettle Western powers as they try to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear program, which they suspect it is using to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies this.

Since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising last year, both countries have signalled their interest in renewing ties which were severed more than 30 years ago.

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"We must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region," Morsi was quoted as saying in a transcript of the interview.

Fars said it had spoken to Morsi a few hours before Sunday's announcement that declared him the winner of Egypt's presidential election.

Asked to comment on reports that, if elected, his first state visit would be to Riyadh, Morsi said: "I didn't say such a thing and until now my first international visits following my victory in the elections have not been determined."

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