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Sudan’s foreign minister cancels visit to Egypt

May 28, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour on Sunday cancelled a planned trip to Cairo several days after accusations by President Omer al-Bashir that Egypt provided weapons to Darfur rebels used during a recent attack.

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Sudan’s FM Ibrahim Ghandour (L) meets with his Egyptian counterpart Samih Shoukri in Cairo on January 9, 2016 (Photo released by the Sudanese FM)

The Egyptian authorities dismissed the Sudanese accusations of support to Darfur armed groups. But Khartoum points to the armoured vehicles seized from the rebels, a matter that Cairo didn’t explain.

Ghandour had to travel to Cairo on Wednesday 31 May for follow-up talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on contentious issues discussed last April in Khartoum between the two officials.

"We told our brothers in Egypt about the postponement of the visit due to internal issues and it would take place later," said the Sudanese top diplomat in statements to the press on Sunday.

"The purpose of the visit was to convene meetings of the joint Sudanese-Egyptian political consultations committee and its agenda has been agreed already," he added.

However, Ghandour avoided giving the details of the internal issues that triggered the cancellation of the visit.

The 31 May meeting between Ghandour and Shoukry was supposed to discuss the ban on Egyptian agricultural imports and visa requirements after the Sudanese government decision to re-establish visa for Egyptians.

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)