Egypt must improve its "insufficient" cooperation with Italian investigators probing the torture and murder of doctoral student Giulio Regeni, Italy's foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday.
"Until now, cooperation has been insufficient," Gentiloni said ahead of meetings in Cairo between Egyptian officials and Rome's chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone and prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco.
"I think this is a crucial opportunity to markedly improve collaboration over the barbaric and tragic murder of our researcher," Gentiloni said, speaking from Brussels where he was attending talks with European Union counterparts.
"It can at least try to lay the basis for more intense and fruitful cooperation," Gentiloni added.
Last Thursday Egypt finally approved the long-awaited arrival of the Rome prosecutors to conduct a joint probe into the murder of 28-year-old Regeni.
The Cambridge University PhD student's mutilated body was found in a ditch on Cairo's western outskirts on 3 February with signs of torture.
He disappeared in the Egyptian capital on 25 January, amid an unprecedented security clampdown on the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former strongman Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian government has pledged to find Regeni's killers and says it is cooperating fully with a team of Italian police investigators sent to Cairo last month, claims rejected by police.
Regeni was researching trade union activism in Egypt - a sensitive topic - and had published articles critical of the government and the lack of democracy in the North African country.
Italian officials said his body showed clear signs of torture, fuelling suggestions he was kidnapped and murdered by Egyptian security forces for having links with opposition groups.
But Cairo has rejected suspicions by many in Italy and elsewhere that Egyptian security forces killed Regeni. It has said criminal motives, 'revenge' or terrorism could lie behind the murder but has so far made no arrests in the case.
Egyptian security sources said Saturday that the day before Regeni vanished, security cameras filmed him arguing with an unknown Italian 'friend' outside the Italian consulate in Cairo.
Italian investigators were trying to identify the 'friend', the security sources said.
Last week, the European Parliament said Regeni's death "occurred within a context of torture, death in custody and enforced disappearances across Egypt in recent years."