June 17, 2015 / 7:18 PM / in 2 years

UK invites Egypt's Sisi, state media say, day after Mursi ruling

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been invited to visit Britain by the British prime minister, Egypt’s state news agency said on Wednesday, a day after a Cairo court sentenced a former president to death, drawing Western criticism.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was sentenced to death on Wednesday, part of a crackdown launched after then army chief Sisi stripped Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The appealable verdicts, which included death sentences against other senior Brotherhood figures, drew criticism from the United States, United Nations and the European Union.

Egypt is a close British ally in the Middle East. Cairo is seeking foreign investment to rebuild its economy after years of political turmoil and amid an Islamist insurrection centered on the Sinai peninsula.

Oil company BP signed a deal this year to invest $12 billion in Egypt that will produce 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, an agreement that will help Egypt as it tackles its worst energy crisis in decades.

A crackdown by security forces that began with Islamists has since expanded to include liberal and secular activists who helped to topple Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Authorities say the now-outlawed Brotherhood poses a grave threat to national security and say they are committed to the country’s democratic transition. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Ralph Boulton

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