Indeed, according to Al-Ahram, Shoukry emphasized the differences between Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the crisis in Syria in subsequent interviews with Egyptian media outlets, saying, “The coalition fighting in Syria may want to change the regime in the country, but that is not Egypt’s position.” He added, however, “The differences do not mean we have a problem. It’s just a difference in point of view.”
The Zarif-Shoukry encounter was followed by a meeting between the new head of the Egyptian interest section in Tehran, Yaser Othman, and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian parliament’s general director for International Affairs who until recently served as deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs. During the meeting, Abdollahian expressed Iran’s enthusiasm about cooperation with Egypt on regional issues — including the Syrian crisis.
He said, “Iran and Egypt are two major and influential countries that can play a constructive role in decreasing the tensions in the region through common regional cooperation.” In response, Othman voiced hope for cooperation with “Iranian friends” to fill the gap between the two countries. He added, “The increase of negotiation and consultations between the officials of the two countries will be effective for improvement of the situation of the region.”
The apparent increase in interactions between Iran and Egypt has irritated Saudi Arabia, which is locked in serious disagreements with Tehran over regional issues. A Sept. 26 report by the Russian news agency Sputnik claimed that a senior Saudi official called the Egyptian president following the Zarif-Shoukry meeting to express his anger over the encounter. The same report alleges that, during the same phone call, the Saudi official threatened to cut aid to Cairo.