CAIRO: A spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi confirmed on Thursday the authenticity of a controversial letter describing his Israeli counterpart as a "great" friend, saying it followed protocol.
The letter, sent for the confirmation of Egypt's new ambassador to Tel Aviv, was leaked to the Israeli press and sparked criticism at home for the Islamist Morsi, who has so far refused to mention Israel by name in his speeches.
The letter reportedly referred to Shimon Peres as a "great and good friend".
Morsi's spokesman Yassir Ali confirmed the letter's authenticity, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website, adding that it conformed to foreign ministry protocols and was "100 percent correct."
The president's office had previously denied another warm letter from Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement considers Israel a regional foe, although the president himself pledges to respect a 1979 peace treaty with Israel.