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Egypt, Turkey downgrade diplomatic ties in row over Morsi

Egypt, Turkey downgrade diplomatic ties in row over Morsi

Cairo: Egypt has expelled Turkey's ambassador while Ankara downgraded relations in a sharp escalation in tensions between the two countries that mounted after the July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Saturday asked the Turkish ambassador to leave the country, state-run MENA news agency reported.

"The people and government of Egypt appreciate the people of Turkey. However, they hold the Turkish government responsible for taking ties between the two nations so far [that] such procedures have to be taken," the statement from the ministry said.

In a quick reaction, Turkey reciprocated by declaring the Egyptian ambassador "persona non grata" and downgrading relations with Egypt to the same level.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday renewed his criticism of the "coup" that ousted Morsi and Egypt's continuing crackdown on his Islamist supporters.

Turkey responded to Egypt's action by declaring Egyptian envoy Abderahman Salah El-Din "persona non grata" and downgrading ties with Cairo "in line with the reciprocity principle that forms the basis of international relations".

The Turkish foreign ministry summoned the Egyptian charge d'affaires for an explanation and said Ankara held Cairo's new military-installed authorities responsible for the current tensions.

However, Turkish President Abdullah Gul told state-run TRT television, "I hope our relations will again get back on track."

Cairo and Ankara had both recalled their ambassadors after a previous spat in August. Botsali eventually returned to Cairo but Egypt's envoy stayed at home.

Turkey's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party government forged an alliance with Morsi after he won Egypt's first free presidential election in June 2012.

A year later Morsi was toppled by the army after mass protests by opponents who accused him of poor governance and betraying the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Erdogan angered Egyptian authorities by describing Morsi's July 3 ouster as a "coup" and caused further outrage with repeated calls for his release.

The row escalated in August when Erdogan condemned the deadly dispersal of the pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, and later Egypt and Turkey recalled their ambassadors for consultations.

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