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Egypt rebuffs Turkey in spat with EU after executions

Egyptian foreign ministry snaps back at Turkey, saying Erdogan's criticism of Egyptian human rights record 'clearly shows hatred'
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks joint European Union and Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday (AFP)

Egypt rebuked Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday after he criticised European leaders for attending a summit hosted by Cairo days after nine men were executed.

Erdogan and his foreign minister accused European Union leaders of hypocrisy for telling Turkey that reinstating the death penalty would end hopes of joining the bloc yet still attending the summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"Turkish President Erdogan once again speaks to us about Egypt and its political leadership, clearly showing hatred and furthermore expressing his continued embrace of the terrorist Brotherhood group," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement.

Relations between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since the Egyptian military, then led by Sisi, ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

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Hafez cited rights accusations against Turkey, including the existence of 70,000 political prisoners, jailing of 175 journalists and firing of 130,000 government employees.

"This narrative illustrates the lack of credibility of what the Turkish president is promoting," he said.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu chided EU leaders for being with Sisi days after "these young saplings were martyred" for killing Egypt's chief prosecutor in 2015.

Right groups had called for the government to halt the execution of the nine men, saying they had been sentenced on forced confessions under torture and subject to unfair trials.

Sisi defended the death penalty on Monday at the Arab-EU summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, saying the two regions had "different cultures".

Turkey aspires to join the EU but its accession negotiations, launched in 2005, are at a standstill amid concerns over human rights and the rule of law.