Egypt is an key player in the Mediterranean region but dialogue with the country "cannot be at the expense of human rights," Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Monday - the fifth anniversary of PhD student Giulio Regeni's abduction in Cairo and unsolved murder.
"Italy considers Egypt to be a crucial interlocutor in the Mediterranean and we believe it is our job in Europe to start frank, constructive and transparent dialogue with the country," Di Maio told European Union counterparts in Brussels.
"But clearly, such dialogue cannot be at the expense of human rights," Di Maio underlined.
Europe needs to put pressure on Egypt over its human rights record, as it has done with other countries, Di Maio underlined.
Italian prosecutors want to try four Egyptian secret service agents over Regeni's kidnapping on 25 January 2016 and torturing to death over the following nine days.
However, Egypt's authorities have continued to stonewall over the case and deny any state involvement in Regeni's abduction and horrific murder. When Regeni's body was found along the Cairo-Alexandria highway in early February, 2016 his mother said she could only recognise him from the tip of his nose.
Egypt's public prosecutor in early January officially closed its probe of 28-year-old Regeni's abduction and killing, claiming in a statement that Italian prosecutors lacked the necessary proof to try the four Egyptian security officials they have charged with the crime.