Cyprus apologises to Egypt over envoy's footwear row

NICOSIA Wed Jan 2, 2013 2:55pm GMT

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus apologised to the Egyptian ambassador on Wednesday after a fracas with police over security screening of her footwear at the island's main airport.

Egyptian ambassador Menha Mahrous Bakhoum was involved in an argument with police when she was asked to undergo security checks to enter a departure terminal on December 29, where she was seeing off members of her family.

Cypriot media reported the ambassador agreed to undergo security screening but objected to removing her boots. In a heated debate that followed, media reported, a police officer was slapped and the ambassador was manhandled by police.

An apology released by Cyprus on Wednesday lauded its "brotherly relations" with Egypt. Cyprus shares a common sea border with Egypt in an area thought to be rich in oil and gas.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly and sincerely expresses its regret and apologises over the treatment of the Ambassador," Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis said in a written statement.

Treatment of the ambassador was not consistent with the ambassador's individual rights or her diplomatic status, the minister said.

(Writing By Michele Kambas, edited by Richard Meares)

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