Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. (Photo: Reuters)
The British government on Thursday defended its plan to invite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to visit, saying it was important to engage with countries and to raise "matters of concern".
Egypt's state news agency said on Wednesday Prime Minister David Cameron had invited Sisi to visit, a day after a Cairo court sentenced former president Mohamed Morsi to death, drawing international criticism.
Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's first freely elected president, was sentenced as part of a crackdown launched after then army chief Sisi stripped Morsi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
A spokeswoman for Cameron said on Thursday the British government was looking at the possibility of Sisi holding talks in London with Cameron "at some point later this year".
Asked whether London's invitation was controversial given Sisi's human rights record and the Morsi ruling, she told reporters:
"The prime minister has talked before about how it is important that we engage with countries where there are issues which are important to the UK's national interests and how we can work together on them.
"When we engage with these countries we can raise matters of concern and no issues are off the table."
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said separately that the British government was "deeply concerned" by the sentencing of Morsi and others, noting the sentences were appealable.