Cairo has said it will investigate accusations that a senior Egyptian official referred to sub-Saharan Africans as "dogs and slaves" during a recent UN conference in Kenya.

In a letter dated May 29, Kenyan diplomat Yvonne Khamati, chairwoman of the Africa Diplomatic Corp Technical Committee, said the unnamed Egyptian official made the "uncivilised, undiplomatic, irresponsible, degrading and insulting" comments last week at the end of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

The remarks were allegedly made in Arabic during consultation on the lack of quorum to pass resolutions affecting Gaza, Khamati said.

She asked for an apology and demanded that Egypt be banned from representing African interests "in any negotiations" as a result of the allegations, which sparked an outcry on social media.

Many Egyptians took to Twitter to protest against the alleged comments with the hashtag #WeAreSorryAfrica.

Cairo said on Tuesday that its foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, had ordered an "immediate investigation" into the allegations.

But it expressed its "complete rejection of any attempts to cast doubt on it belonging to Africa and its perpetual defence of the continent's interests.

"It is completely unacceptable to make the mistake of generalising and making flimsy accusations against the Egyptian state and people that cast doubt on its African identity," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

In Egypt, black Africans and other minorities have long complained of racism and discrimination 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies