Aboul Gheit 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt's foreign minister lashed out on Monday against an Israeli documentary claiming that Egyptian troops killed Israeli prisoners of war during the Yom Kippur War between the two countries, calling the claim "absurd."
Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit's comments were the latest in a spat over POWs between the countries, which signed a peace treaty in 1979. The Egyptian government says it is investigating reports that Israeli soldiers killed Egyptian POWs during the Six Day War.
On Sunday, Channel 10 aired excerpts of documentary with footage showing IDF soldiers, their hands bound behind their backs, shot to death by Egyptian troops in the Sinai desert in 1973. The documentary said "dozens, if not hundreds" of Israeli POWs were killed during the war.
'Egypt killed dozens of Israeli POWs'
"This talk is to be described as absurd," Gheit said at a press conference. He said the "miserable film" was aired to "cover up any crimes that were committed against Egyptian prisoners of war."
The controversy was first stirred by "Ruah Shaked," another documentary aired earlier this month on Channel 1 that mistakenly alleged that the Shaked reconnaissance unit had executed Egyptian POWs.
The Egyptian government demanded an investigation by Israel and said it would launch one of its own. Since then, the Egyptian press has run repeated stories citing Egyptian war veterans saying they witnesses Egyptian POWs being killed.
Allegations of POW executions have arisen in the past, drumming up outrage on one side or the other - particularly in Egypt. The controversy is not expected to deeply hurt relations, but reflects the mistrust that continues between the two countries despite their landmark peace treaty.
Aboul Gheit spoke at a press conference with Belgium's Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht, who said he and the Egyptian diplomat "discussed how vital is starting serious negotiations to resume peace talks in the region, because without this, the situation will get difficult."
De Gucht said he hoped for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Aboul Gheit said in a statement issued later that he and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates will bring up ways to "support the Palestinians Authority following the formation of the government" when they meet on March 24 with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Egypt.