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Sudanese-Egyptian relations “sacred”: FM

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Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi receives Sudanese FM Ibrahim Ghandour on 3 June 2017 (ST Photo)
June 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has described the Sudanese-Egyptian relations as “sacred” appealing to media on both sides to be “messengers of good” to preserve the eternal ties between the two countries.

Ghandour, who arrived in Cairo on Saturday morning, handed over a message from President Omer al-Bashir to the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. He also held a closed meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

At a joint press conference with Shoukry Saturday, Ghandour said they had frank and transparent discussions on contentious issues, saying he handed over a message from al-Bashir to al-Sisi pertaining to ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

He added that al-Sisi was frank and transparent, saying the Egyptian president instructed to hold a monthly meeting for the foreign ministers alternately in Khartoum and Cairo.

According to Ghandour, al-Sisi also instructed to activate the work of the cooperation mechanisms between the two countries, particularly in the security and military domains.

The Sudanese top diplomat added the meeting covered all economic, political, social and cultural aspects of bilateral relations besides coordination between the two countries at the regional and international levels.

He called on the Sudanese and Egyptian media to play a positive role to preserve the historical relation between the two countries, saying official relations could get tense sometimes but “we have to maintain ties between the two peoples”.

Commenting on the Egyptian airstrikes in the Libyan city of Derna and the possibility of establishing a buffer zone on the border triangle between Sudan, Egypt and Libya, Ghandour said the border between Egypt and Sudan extends over more than 1200 km and no country can protect its border on its own.

Ghandour added that he proposed to the Egyptian leadership to establish a joint border patrol force, pointing to Sudan’s experience with Chad and Ethiopia which managed to protect the joint borders against terrorist activities.

The minister stressed that each country has the right to protect its borders on its own, pointing out the presence of Sudanese forces on the opposite side of the border to prevent the infiltration of any terrorists.

He added that the Darfur mercenary groups came to Sudan through the border with Libya, saying “we could have avoided that if we had put joint coordination mechanisms on the ground”.

Sudan’s top diplomat pointed the imposition of entry visa for the Egyptians who seek to travel to Sudan was not meant to put restrictions on the citizens but to prevent the entry of terrorists, saying the measure was taken following the Egyptian media campaign which claimed the presence of terrorists in Sudan.

Ghandour added he will instruct the Sudanese embassy in Cairo to resolve any issues relating to granting entry visa for the Egyptian citizens, pointing to the joint consular committee between the two countries.

He pointed that Sudan’s decision to ban the imports of Egyptian farming products is a technical decision, blaming the politicisation of the measure to the bad timing, saying the move has no political dimension.

Ghandour stressed the decision to ban Egypt’s agricultural products is not linked to the recent attack of Darfur rebels who came from Libya, saying it was based on technical grounds and must be resolved in this context.

Commenting on the recent accusations of Egypt’s involvement in the Darfur rebels’ attack, Ghandour said he furnished the Egyptian leadership with all information in this regard, saying the bilateral meetings between al-Bashir and al-Sisi would resolve all these issues.

For his part, Shokry affirmed that the “Egyptian policy towards the brotherly country of Sudan is firm”, saying they seek to promote rapprochement and integration between the two countries in all fields.

He stressed that “this enables us to promote economic progress to achieve the interests of both peoples”, saying they fully respect the sovereignty and stability of the Sudan.

The Egyptian top diplomat said his meeting with Ghandour was “candid and transparent”, stressing the Sudanese-Egyptian relations would remain strong and will overcome any difficulties.

He added they discussed ways to promote economic cooperation and overcome any recent restrictions to achieve the joint interest, saying he will work with Ghandour to remove any misunderstanding between the two sides.

Shokry said they agreed to activate the existing mechanisms of dialogue between the two countries, particularly in the security and military fields.

Tensions between Khartoum and Cairo have escalated following the former’s decision to restrict imports of Egyptian farming products which was reciprocated by Cairo’s decision to raise residency fees for Sudanese living in Egypt.

The deterioration of bilateral relations between the two countries goes back to the attempt to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak in June 1995 followed by the deployment of Egyptian troops in the disputed area of Halayeb triangle.

Since then, Khartoum has been moving to improve its ties with the eastern and western neighbours, instead of its strategic ties with Egypt.

Khartoum further went to back the construction of a dam in Ethiopia, which Cairo says will hurt its water needs. Also, the Sudanese government recently signed investment agreements with Gulf countries. Accordingly, they will establish huge agricultural projects that require the full use of Sudan share of the Nile water, a move which is seen in Cairo as another threat to Egypt.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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