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23 Nov, 2013 09:52

Cairo expels Turkish ambassador, downgrades diplomatic relations

Cairo expels Turkish ambassador, downgrades diplomatic relations

The Egyptian government is downgrading diplomatic relations with Turkey and is expelling the Turkish ambassador, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Cairo announced.

Cairo said the Turkish ambassador was being ordered out of country over Turkey's continued “interference” in Egypt’s internal affairs.

Turkey is "attempting to influence public opinion against Egyptian interests, [and has] supported meetings of organizations that seek to create instability in the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said.

The ministry said in a statement Saturday the Egyptian government had decided to downgrade Turkey’s diplomatic representation to that of a charge d'affaires, and had already recalled its own ambassador in Turkey. 

Ankara has said it will take "counter measures" following the expulsion of the Turkish ambassador from Cairo.

Turkey summoned Egypt’s charge d'affaires on Saturday over the expulsion of the envoy, the ministry said in a statement. Ankara also declared the Egyptian ambassador, currently out of the country, persona non grata.

"We are saddened by this situation," said Turkey's foreign ministry. "But responsibility before history belongs to Egypt's temporary administration which came to power under the extraordinary circumstances of the July 3 coup."

Earlier this month, Egypt's Foreign Ministry condemned comments from Turkish officials about ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The Egyptian government accused Turkey of “falsifying the real situation in Egypt and challenging the will of the Egyptian people,” the state news agency MENA reported.

On Nov. 5, the Turkish Foreign Ministry urged Cairo to release Morsi, who has been held in detention pending trial since July. 

"We believe the release of all political prisoners, including elected President [Mohamed] Morsi, will contribute significantly to the emergence and sound implementation of the dialogue and reconciliation process in the country," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.