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Khartoum, Cairo agreed to maintain “status quo”: FM

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Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi receives Sudanese FM Ibrahim Ghandour on 3 June 2017 (ST Photo)

February 25, 2018 (KHARTOUM) Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Saturday said Khartoum and Cairo have agreed to stop the negative escalation and preserve the status quo between the two countries.

He described the relationship between Sudan and Egypt as historic, saying the two countries are joined together in the bonds of an “indissoluble destiny”.

Speaking at a special interview at Ashorooq TV Saturday, Ghandour expressed confidence that Sudan and Egypt could overcome the temporary differences and return their relations to normal at any time.

He pointed out that Sudan continues to stick to its stance regarding the contested Halayeb triangle, saying the two countries must resort to negotiations or arbitration to resolve the dispute.

The top diplomat added the Egyptian side rejects the idea of referring the case to international arbitration and offers old solutions such as reaching an integration agreement between the two countries.

The border triangle area of Halayeb, Abu Ramad and Shalateen, which is a 20,580 km area on the Red Sea, has been a contentious issue between Egypt and Sudan since 1958, shortly after Sudan gained its independence from the British-Egyptian rule in January 1956.

The area has been under Cairo’s full military control since the mid-1990’s following a Sudanese-backed attempt to kill the former Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.

He said the two sides agreed to maintain the status quo and avoid any negative campaigns, pointing the quadripartite committee has proposed a number of options to overcome the strained relations.

Ghandour added the two sides agreed to not allow opposition activities be launched against the other country.

“We discussed this issue in detail and we provided names [of opposition figures] and there is no talk about expulsion except for those who violate this agreement [by carrying out] actual opposition work or launching [negative] media [campaign]” he said

Earlier this month, Arab media reported that Khartoum had asked the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to leave the country within hours, otherwise Sudan would hand them over to Cairo.

However, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) denied these reports and described them as mere “media brainchild”.

The Egyptian media accuse Khartoum of hosting members of the Brotherhood, which Cairo has declared as a terrorist group since December 2013.

But Khartoum denies these claims and accuses Egypt of supporting Sudanese rebel movements particularly from Darfur region.

Ghandour pointed out that Sudan’s Ambassador to Egypt Abdel-Mahmoud Abdel-Halim could return to Cairo at any time, saying instructions have already been issued to this effect.

The government-controlled media in Egypt carried out an unprecedented hostile media campaign against Sudan and its president Omer al-Bashir after a visit to Sudan of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Also, in January Sudan accused Egypt and Eritrea of backing armed opposition groups.

Following a meeting held on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January, al-Bashir and his counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed the tensions between the two courtiers and agreed to form a quadripartite committee to develop a roadmap to restore the relationship to the right track.

The quadripartite committee including the foreign ministers and heads of intelligence from both countries met earlier this month in Cairo and agreed on a number of technical measures to diffuse the tensions.

(ST)

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