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Ethiopia, Sudan regional officials discuss refugee status, referendum

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 7, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – Regional officials from Sudan’s Blue Nile and the Ethiopian Benshangul-Gumuz states discussed on the situation of hundreds of Ethiopia refugees and other issues of common concern, Sudan’s official news agency, SUNA reports.

Delegations from both states on Wednesday concluded their joint meeting in Al-Kurmok town where they mainly consulted on the status of over 300 Ethiopian nationals residing in the Sudanese town.

Benshanguel Gumuz state Chief, Ahmed Nasir, has called for classifying the Ethiopian citizens and to identify the reasons behind their arrival to Sudan, announcing that he will discuss their situation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ethiopian official noted a need for establishing more customs check-points along the common border to battle smuggling activities.

Blue Nile State governor, Malik Aggar, called for opening the borders between the two countries and called on the Commissioner of El-Kurmok and his Ethiopian counterpart to hold two meetings every week to get acquainted with the general situation and to work for solving the pending issues.

The regional officials have also discussed the impact of south Sudan’s indepedence referendum on the region as well as the agenda of the coming meeting which will be held in early February in Asosa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Benshanguel Gumuz state and Sudan’s Blue Nile state have a strong regional cooperation to ensuring security situation along their common border.

Joint security measures taken in the past by the two states have managed to curb rampant conflicts which have been caused by resources of grazing lands, robbery or arms smuggling and others.

The two adjacent states also have a joint monitoring system established to control other minor troubles.

The strong political and socio-economic relations between Ethiopia and Sudan have contributed a lot in forging bonds between bordering regions of the two countries.

Ethiopia and Sudan have a number of cooperation agreements among others on security, trade culture, controlling and prevention of communicable human and animal dieses and environmental protection as well.

Ethiopia and Sudan share 1,200 Kilometer long common border, officials from adjacent Regions of the two countries have regular meetings every three months aimed at boosting their ties and bringing mutual benefit to the east African neighbors.

(ST)

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