UPDATE 3-Cairo says Iran has not appointed Egypt ambassador

Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:28pm GMT

(Adds senior Muslim cleric on Iran)

CAIRO, April 19 (Reuters) - Egypt said on Tuesday Iran had not appointed an ambassador to Cairo, denying a news report that the two countries had restored diplomatic relations after more than 30 years of hostility.

The website of Iran's Press TV earlier reported that Tehran had appointed Ali Akbar Sibuyeh, a career diplomat who is the son of a senior cleric, as envoy to Cairo.

Mainly Sunni Muslim Egypt and predominantly Shi'ite Iran are among the biggest and most influential countries in the Middle East. Ties between the countries were severed in 1980 following Iran's Islamic revolution and Egypt's recognition of Israel.

There have been signs of warming relations since mass protests deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.

"This report is absolutely incorrect," Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement on the state news agency MENA. "Diplomatic relations have not yet been resumed."

Iran's foreign ministry also declined to confirm the report, saying it was "guesswork".

Egypt's foreign minister said earlier this month Cairo was ready to re-establish diplomatic ties, signalling a shift in Iran policy since the fall of Mubarak.

In February, two Iranian warships passed through Egypt's Suez Canal after approval from the military rulers in Cairo. Israel called Iran's move a provocation.   Continued...

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