Egypt summons Turkish ambassador over 'interference'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Nov 2013

Interim government irritated by fresh Turkish calls for release of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi after his appearance in court last week

Turkey's Prime Minister and leader of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Tayyip Erdogan (R) and former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi greet the audience during AK Party congress in Ankara (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's foreign ministry on Monday summoned the Turkish ambassador in Cairo over Ankara's calls for toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to be released, state news agency MENA reported.

Turkey reiterated its calls for Morsi's release after he appeared in court on 4 November – his first public outing since his ouster in July - to face trial for inciting the murder of protesters.

"We believe the release of all political prisoners, including elected president Morsi, will contribute significantly to the emergence and sound implementation of the dialogue and reconciliation process in that country," said a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry.

Ankara's recent statements infuriated Egypt's interim rulers who accused the Turks of "falsifying facts about the situation in Egypt and defying the will of the people."

Egypt has summonedTurkeys' ambassador several times since Morsi's ouster for the same reason.

Morsi's overthrow by the army after mass protests against his one-year rule has strained relations between Cairo and Ankara. A deadly crackdown on Islamists on 14 August prompted both countries to recall their ambassadors for consultations.

The Turkish envoy retuned to Cairo early in September, but Egypt says its ambassador will not return to Ankara unless interference by Turkey ceases.

Tensions heightened further when both countries cancelled planned joint naval drills scheduled for October.

Turkey's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government struck up a close alliance with Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, when he was elected in Egypt's first free elections in June 2012.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the fiercest critics of Morsi's removal, has repeatedly called for his release and severely condemned the violence that followed his ouster.

Hundreds have been killed in Egypt in deadly street fights pitting Islamists against security forces and civilian opponents over the past three months, plunging the country deeper into turmoil.

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