First commercial flight between Egypt and Iran for 34 years

Reuters News

3/30/2013 4:28:48 PM - Reuters News

CAIRO (Reuters) - The first commercial flight between Egypt and Iran in 34 years took off on Saturday, the latest step towards normalizing ties broken following the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution.

Egypt and Iran agreed to resume direct flights in October 2010 before President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power, but no flights were made.

"A flight by Air Memphis, owned by Egyptian businessman Rami Lakah, took off from Cairo to Tehran earlier on Saturday carrying eight Iranians including diplomats," one airport official said adding that the airline could later carry out more tourist and business trips between Egypt and Iran.

Diplomatic relations between Iran and Egypt were cut in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran when the government in Cairo gave sanctuary to the deposed shah.

But ties improved over the years, and have become significantly better since the election of Islamist Mohamed Mursi as president of Egypt in June 2012.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Egypt in February, the first visit by an Iranian leader to Cairo in more than three decades, and called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and offered a loan to the cash-strapped Arab state.

Mursi visited Iran in August to attend an international summit where he initiated a quartet committee that included Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia to discuss ways to end the Syrian civil war. Saudi Arabia later left the group.

(This story was refiled to correct headline)

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Jon Hemming)