THE simple renaming of a street in Tehran yesterday paved the way for Iran and Egypt, the Middle East’s two most populous nations, to re-establish diplomatic relations for the first time in 25 years.
Tehran city council yesterday agreed to rename the street commemorating Khaled Islambouli, the man who killed the former Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat.
The street’s name was changed to Intifada Street, after the Palestinian uprising, at the request of Iran’s foreign ministry. Cairo had demanded Iran rename the street before it would contemplate restoring ties.
A senior Iranian official said the two Muslim countries had agreed to patch up a relationship severed by Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, due to Cairo’s 1978 Camp David peace deal with Israel and decision to play host to Iran’s exiled shah.
But Egypt said a final decision had yet to be taken. "The two countries have decided to restore ties and right now they are making the preparations," the Iranian vice-president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said.
In Cairo, the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, said: "When a decision is taken, it will be announced. There is no official announcement from anywhere."
An agreement between Tehran and Cairo would heal the last rift between Egypt and fellow Islamic states caused by the Camp David peace deal.
Iran, which still has no diplomatic ties with the United States and Israel, has recently made great efforts to improve relations with its Arab neighbours.