Egypt releases five Italian fishing boats

Egypt's authorities on Friday released five Italian fishing boats and their crews after intercepting them 22 nautical miles off the northern coastal port city of Alexandria the previous day for allegedly entering Egyptian waters, Italian news agency AKI reported.

The boats with 37 crew aboard were detained in Egypt after an inspection by an Egyptian military vessel in international waters, Italian officials said on Thursday.

The release of the boats from the Mazara del Vallo fleet in southwestern Sicily followed intense diplomatic negotiations over the past 24 hours. Italy's foreign minister Giulio Terzi told AKI Friday he was "extremely satisfied" with the outcome.

"The positive conclusion to this matter in such a short space of time demonstrates the excellence and solidity of relations between Italy and Egypt," AKI quoted Terzi as saying.

Giovanni Tumbiolo, president of the fishing industry association in the Sicilian town of Mazara del Vallo told TGCom 24 television Thursday night that the boats were taken to Alexandria but he had few details on the incident.

"It is very strange that they were asked to follow the Egyptian naval vessel to Alexandria," he said.

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