TEHRAN - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday he hopes negotiations between Tehran and Cairo, who have not had diplomatic relations for the past 22 year, will bear fruit.
"Both sides want and intend to overcome the problems in their way and put an end to the relations cut. There are currently negotiations underway, and we hope in future they would bear fruit," he told reporters.
However, Khatami said the he met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his request, adding: "The bearing of the fruit, should be in a way that we would not have to decline any of our values and principles, and also that the Egyptians' worries be removed."
Nearly a week ago, a confidant to the Egyptian president, Makram Mohammed Ahmed said Mubarak would visit Tehran and normalize ties if Iran scraps public tributes to president Anwar Sadat's assassin. A street in Tehran is named after Sadat's assassin, Khaled Eslamboli, branded as "martyr" with a big mural of him on the towering building.
Mubarak is invited to Iran in February to attend the D-8 economic summit of developing nations, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said.
His visit would be the first to Tehran by an Egyptian president since the two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1980, a year after Cairo gave asylum to the deposed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and signed peace with Israel.
Efforts to improve ties got a strong boost when Mubarak met Khatami in Geneva more than two weeks ago, on the sidelines of a UN technology summit.
Relations were particularly bad while Egypt supported Iraq during its 1980-1988 war with Iran. However, trade and other ties have been improving since the 1990s.
Several meetings between the foreign ministers of both countries have taken place in the past few years, and each country has an interest sections in the other's capital.