CAIRO: Officials say a commercial airliner has left Egypt for Iran in the first direct passenger flight between the two countries in more than three decades.
Cairo-Tehran relations have witnessed a thaw since the June election of Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.
Diplomatic relations were frozen after Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran overthrew the Shah.
Cairo airport officials say a private Air Memphis flight departed on Saturday for Tehran carrying eight Iranians, including two diplomats.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to reporters.
Egypt’s tourism minister visited Tehran last month to sign an agreement promoting tourism between the countries.
Egypt’s Foreign and Civil Aviation Ministries, however, set regulations restricting the number and movement of Iranian tourists in Egypt.
Separately, Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh headed to Cairo on Saturday to discuss his movement’s complaints about Israeli compliance with an Egyptian-brokered truce.
Hamas spokesman Taher Al Nunu said Haniyeh would be discussing “Israeli violations of the truce,” which ended eight days of deadly violence in and around the Gaza Strip last November.
Last week, Hamas complained to Egypt that Israel was not keeping its end of the bargain.
Nunu said that the Gaza premier would be discussing “the problem of (Palestinian) prisoners (held by Israel) and Hamas-Egypt relations.” Ties between Hamas and Cairo have been tense after Egyptian forces closed down dozens of smuggling tunnels on the Gaza border.
Haniyeh will also seek to “clear the air” after Egyptian Allegations of Hamas involvement in a deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula last year, Hamas sources said.
Reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are also expected to be on the agenda.