Ahmadinejad expresses desire to visit Gaza, pray in 'liberated Jerusalem'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Egypt on the first trip by an Iranian president to the most populous Arab nation since the 1979 revolution, underlining the thaw in relations since the election of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi as the new Egyptian leader. Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood until his election, kissed Ahmadinejad as he disembarked from his plane at Cairo airport. The leaders walked down a red carpet, Ahmadinejad smiling as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.

Iran currently holds the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Ahmadinejad is in Cairo to chair the OIC meeting there.

Before leaving Tehran, the hard-line Iranian leader gave an interview to the ‘Al-Mayadeen’ news channel in which he expressed a desire to visit the Gaza Strip. Asked whether he would visit Gaza while in Cairo or before his term as president expires in June, he replied: "My wish is bigger than this. I wish to pray in Jerusalem after complete liberation." He added: "If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people," without saying whose authority he would seek to visit the coastal enclave ruled by Hamas.

Egypt controls one of the crossings to Gaza and leaders of Qatar and Malaysia recently visited the enclave.

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