JERUSALEM, April 16 (Reuters) – The exiled son of the Iranian Shah toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution will visit Israel this week, Israel’s government said on Sunday, calling him the “most senior Iranian personality” to ever pay a public visit to Israel.
Israel and Iran enjoyed warmer ties under the U.S-backed Shah, though they have become enemies since.
Israel, in its statement, said the visit by Reza Pahlavi is meant to create “a bridge between Israel and the Iranian people, and expressing joint opposition to the Ayatollah regime.”
Thank you, Madam Minister. Looking forward to a productive visit for the benefit of both Iranian and Israeli people. https://t.co/nCA8p1Ht0b
— Reza Pahlavi (@PahlaviReza) April 17, 2023
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“A democratic Iran will seek to renew its ties with Israel and our Arab neighbours,” Pahlavi was quoted as saying in the Israeli statement. “In my opinion, that day is closer than ever.”
During his visit Pahlavi will take part in Israel’s official Holocaust memorial ceremony.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was dismissive when asked about the trip at his weekly press conference.
“Neither the person you’ve mentioned (Reza Pahlavi), the purpose of this trip, nor the place he wants to travel to are worthy of discussion,” he said.
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(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Dubai Newsroom; editing by Diane Craft and Hugh Lawson)