Sunday, April 15, 2007

Egypt and Armenia discuss Iran's nuclear programme

AFP News brief

Armenian President Robert Kocharian and President Hosni Mubarak discussed Iran's controversial nuclear programme in Cairo on Saturday.

"Their talks covered the Iranian nuclear issue, developments in the region and the Gulf. Armenia is particularly interested in the nuclear file since it shares its southern frontier with Iran," Suleiman Awad told journalists.

Iran says its uranium enrichment programme is for peaceful civilian purposes, but Western states suspect it may be used to develop a nuclear bomb, and have slapped sanctions on Tehran in a bid to get it to halt the project.

"Iraq also featured in the discussions, which covered regional problems in Central Asia, particularly the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh," Awad said.

During Kocharian's three-day visit, the interior ministers of both countries are expected to sign accords on organised crime, judicial cooperation and customs.

On Sunday, Kocharian will meet the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, one of the most prominent figures in Sunni Islam.

Once home to a massive Armenian community, Egypt has close historical ties with Armenia -- in 1878, Armenian Nubar Pasha became the country's first prime minister.

In the 1940s some 40,000 Armenians lived in Egypt, mostly in Cairo and Alexandria, although many left in the 1960s with the rise of Egyptian nationalism and more socialist laws that hit Armenian businesses.

Today some 8,000 people of Armenian origin live in Egypt, according to the community's website.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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