(TheBlaze/AP) — Iran’s president on Wednesday offered to help rescue Egypt’s failing economy with a “big credit line,” another sign of improving relations between two regional powers after a freeze of more than three decades.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the proposal during the first trip to Egypt by an Iranian leader since 1979, just three days after the United States delivered a fresh batch of F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian government.
Egypt’s President Morsi had no immediate reaction to Ahmadinejad’s offer, which was made in an interview with the state-run Al-Ahram daily.
“We can provide a big credit line to our Egyptian brothers,” Ahmadinejad told the paper. “If the two peoples cooperate and join forces, they can become an important element.”
Egypt and Iran have grown closer since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt last summer after the ouster of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak. Facing crippling sanctions at home, though, it is unclear how much money Iran could spare for Egypt.
Ahmadinejad is currently attending an Islamic nations summit in Cairo, but arrived a day early for talks with Egyptian leaders.
His reception in Egypt has not been entirely welcoming, though warm enough at the top ranks of government to cause concern in the West. On Tuesday, for instance, he had to flee an ancient mosque in downtown Cairo after a protester took off his shoe and tried to throw it at him.
In the Al-Ahram interview, though, Ahmadinejad tried to downplay the concerns with a story of unity.
“For example, 40 people are sitting in a bus and they differ among themselves, but they are all heading to the same destination and to the same goal,” he said in a reference to Muslim world. “What is common among us is bigger than our differences.”
Iran has been an Islamic state since a bloody revolution in 1979. Political dissidents are regularly tortured and imprisoned, their young daughters sometimes raped before they are killed so, as virgins, they don’t go straight to paradise. Ahmadinejad frequently makes threats against Israel and the West.