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Sudanese foreign minister visits Cairo for talks meant to defuse bilateral tensions


Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) meets with his Sudanese counterpart, Ibrahim Ghandour, in Cairo on June 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan’s foreign minister has visited Egypt in the hope of defusing months of tensions between the two neighbors locked in a border dispute, but there are reports of no tangible progress in the discussions.
On Saturday, Ibrahim Ghandour held talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, where the two diplomats spoke of the “holy” relations binding the two Nile-Basin nations.
In a joint news conference following their meeting, Ghandour and Shoukry said they had held “honest” talks, but reported no tangible results in efforts to hammer out their differences over a number of issues, including sovereignty over the so-called Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea.
The two Afro-Arab neighbors share a combined border stretching from the Mediterranean coast to east Africa.
Cairo-Khartoum relations soured after Khartoum renewed a British colonial-era claim to the Halayeb Triangle, an Egyptian-held territory.
Sudan first submitted a complaint against Egypt over the territory to the UN Security Council in 1958. Despite renewing the complaint on almost annual basis, Egypt has so far refused to submit the dispute to international arbitration.
Speaking at the presser, Shoukry said “there are deeply entrenched relations capable of overcoming whatever is inflicted upon them,” striking a positive note. “We are working toward a frank dialogue capable of removing misunderstandings and confusion.”
Ghandour, in turn, said that he delivered a message from President Omar Bashir to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on bilateral ties and conveyed what he called some of Bashir’s “concerns.”
He also sought to play down recent frictions between the countries and said Sudan and Egypt arguing are trying to “open a new page in cultural, security and economic relations.”
The Sudanese minister’s trip came after President Bashir accused Egypt last month of supporting rebels in the restive Darfur region. Cairo denied the allegation.
The tension was further stoked when Sudan decided recently to ban all agricultural and animal imports from Egypt over health concerns, a claim hotly disputed by Cairo.
During the press conference, Ghandour acknowledged the ill-timing of the Cabinet decision to ratify the ban but reiterated that the decision was made on a technical basis.
He also said both sides were also exploring ways of addressing trade and consular rows.

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