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New leaders of Egypt, Tunisia hold meeting

Pledge to rebuild long-tense ties

A picture of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was held up as supporters cheered during a rally at Tahrir Square.

Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters

A picture of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was held up as supporters cheered during a rally at Tahrir Square.

CAIRO — The presidents of Egypt and Tunisia pledged Friday to open a new chapter in relations following uprisings that overthrew longtime rulers, replacing them with a Muslim Brotherhood figure and an activist who had been exiled.

After meeting with Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told reporters in a joint press conference that the two nations will rebuild ties based on shared experiences after what he described as decades of tense relations.

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“I will not say we are starting from scratch, but one thing for sure is that we are moving ahead with relations that for years and years were stagnant and routine without friendliness or warmth,” Marzouki said.

“A new era of relations has begun between the two nations,” echoed Morsi.

Marzouki was exiled for his political activism, and Morsi was jailed for his activities with the Brotherhood under the two nations’ old regimes. When Tunisians overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last year, it helped inspire Egypt’s revolt against longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Both countries saw Islamists rise to power in free elections after.

Marzouki said the two leaders specifically discussed the Syrian uprising and their support for the Syrian people, but both oppose foreign military intervention as a means to ending the bloodshed that activists say has killed about 17,000 Syrians.

Meanwhile, a few thousand Egyptians rallied in Cairo on Friday in support of Morsi’s decision to reconvene the Islamist-dominated Parliament despite a military-backed court ruling that dissolved the body.

The demonstration, a continuation of smaller open sit-ins in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other cities, was organized by his former Brotherhood party, a number of ultraconservative Islamist groups, and the liberal activist April 6 movement. Leading liberal parties and the country’s main Salafi Nour Party stayed away from the rally.

Morsi had issued a decree earlier this week calling Parliament into session despite a June 14 ruling by the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court that the legislature was invalid because a third of its members were elected illegally. The Parliament, which convened for five minutes Tuesday, met to find a way to examine the court’s ruling, Brotherhood Parliament speaker Saad el-Katatni said. The Supreme Constitutional Court immediately ruled to halt the decree, saying the assembly remains dissolved.

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