Egypt on Tuesday strongly rejected criticism by Israel's foreign minister that Cairo is doing a "terrible" job of securing its border with the Gaza Strip against smugglers, saying Tzipi Livni did not understand the issues and should have remained silent.
The diplomatic spat cast a cloud over an upcoming visit to Egypt by Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak. His talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are expected to tackle a number of security issues, including cross-border weapons smuggling to Gaza Strip-based armed groups.
Livni infuriated Egyptian officials on Monday by accusing Cairo of doing a ''terrible'' work in securing the border. ''It is better for the Israeli minister to concentrate on negotiation efforts with the Palestinians, instead of speaking randomly about issues she should not be dealing with if she is not fully aware of the situation,'' a statement from the ministry said, according to the AP.
The Egyptian foreign ministry statement Tuesday said it ''rejected in both form and substance'' Livni's accusations. Livni's remarks are ''not far from'' the US Congress proposal to link the aid with Egypt's alleged lack of action ''toward the tunnels issue,'' the statement said.