updated 3/27/2008 7:13:00 PM ET 2008-03-27T23:13:00

Egypt's foreign minister said his country is upset by the accidental killing of an Egyptian citizen by a U.S. Navy-contracted ship in the Suez Canal, and called the incident "unacceptable," the state-run news agency reported.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit's comments were Egypt's first official response to the incident, which occurred Monday when a Navy-contracted ship fired warning shots at approaching motor boats in the Suez Canal.

"Egyptian ports are not open fields for gunfire," the Middle East News Agency quoted Aboul Gheit as saying Wednesday evening in Luxembourg. "We are upset by this incident, which is unacceptable, and we are waiting to see the results of the military prosecutor to get a complete idea for what happened."

The Navy expressed regret for the incident Wednesday and promised to take care of the victim's family. President Bush also called Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak Thursday morning.

"President Bush expressed his deep regret and sympathies for the incident in the Suez Canal and said the United States will fully investigate this," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters aboard Air Force One while accompanying Bush on a flight to Dayton, Ohio.

Body exhumed for analysis
Mohammed Fouad was buried on Tuesday, but Egypt ordered Suez officials to retrieve his body the following day for forensic analysis, said security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Global Patriot, a civilian ship under short term contract to the U.S. Navy, entered the Suez Canal Monday and was approached by small motor boats that conduct informal commerce with canal shipping, prompting the onboard navy security team to fire shots after issuing verbal warnings.

"The Egyptian boat might have been getting close in a way that wasn't comfortable for the Americans, but this is not a reason to open fire inside Egypt territorial waters, inside or outside the port," Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying.

The U.S. Navy has been very careful about the activities of small boats near its warships ever since an al-Qaida suicide attack by an explosives-packed motorboat on the USS Cole in Yemen killed 17 sailors in 2000.

The waterborne merchants that ply the canal selling cigarettes and other products to passing shipping normally know not to approach military vessels, but the Global Patriot had no markings distinguishing it from other civilian cargo ships.

On Jan. 6, U.S. Navy ships nearly opened fire on armed Iranian speedboats that repeatedly charged their convoy in the cramped waters of the Persian Gulf's Strait of Hormuz.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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