Sisi Hails Return to 'Normal' after Italy Ties Strained over Murder

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has hailed the return of "normal" relations with Italy that were long strained over the murder of an Italian in Cairo.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries plummeted after the mutilated body of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old doctoral researcher at Britain's Cambridge University, was found in a roadside ditch in January 2016.

The extent of the injuries suffered by the academic shocked Italy and Rome recalled its ambassador to Cairo in April 2016, only sending an envoy back in September last year.

But in a sign of easing relations, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio visited Cairo on Wednesday and met with Sisi.

In discussing the Regeni case, the Egyptian president expressed "a strong will to reveal the perpetrators and bring them to justice", according to a statement released by his spokesman Bassam Radi.

Sisi said he was keen to enhance cooperation and welcomed the increasing diplomatic visits between Egypt and Italy as a "return of relations to their normal course."

Di Maio, leader of Italy's populist Five Star Movement, praised the "progress made on the case and the sincere cooperation" of Egyptian authorities, the statement said.

Regeni was researching labor movements when he disappeared and Egyptian authorities have been accused of failing to cooperate in the Italian investigation.

The visit to Cairo by Di Maio comes less than three weeks after that of Italy's foreign minister, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, during which "cooperation" on the Regeni case was also noted.

The Italian press and western diplomats in Cairo suspect members of Egypt's security services of having abducted, and fatally tortured Regeni. The Egyptian government denies the accusation.

In the latest bilateral meeting Sisi and Di Maio also discussed illegal immigration and developments in Libya.

The two sides also talked about strengthening ties "especially in the economic and trade fields", as well as the energy sector, the statement said.

In January Sisi and the boss of Italian energy giant Eni, Claudio Descalzi, attended the inauguration of the offshore Zohr gas field which the firm discovered in 2015.

Source: Agence France Presse

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