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Sudan’s al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s FM discuss recent border clashes

Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia Foreign Minister (ENA Photo)
July 4, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - President Omer al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu Wednesday discussed recent border clashes saying they are determined to promote the strategic relations between the two countries.

Earlier this week, several reports said a number of Sudanese farmers and an army officer were killed by Ethiopian gunmen in Al-Fashaga area.

Gebeyehu, accompanied by a senior security official, on Wednesday arrived in Khartoum to convey a verbal message from Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to al-Bashir.

Following the meeting, Sudan’s Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed described recent border clashes as “normal incidents that occur during the rainy season every year”.

He added the Ethiopian premier stressed his country’s determination to overcome such incidents, saying al-Bashir also called to address these clashes through cooperation and coordination in order not to adversely impact on the distinct relations between the two countries.

For his part, Gebeyehu said Sudan and Ethiopia will work together to address all border problems, pointing to the strategic ties between the two countries.

Ethiopian and Sudanese farmers from two sides of the border dispute the ownership of land in Al-Fashaga area located in the southeastern part of Sudan’s eastern state of Gedaref.

In the past years, Sudanese authorities accused Ethiopia of controlling more than a million acres of Sudanese agricultural land in the area of Al-Fashaga, saying the area has been completely isolated from Sudan.

Al-Fashaga covers an area of about 250 square kilometres and it has about 600.000 acres of fertile lands. Also, there are river systems flowing across the area including Atbara, Setait and Baslam rivers.

The current borders between Sudan and Ethiopia were drawn by the British and Italian colonisers in 1908. The two governments have agreed in the past to redraw the borders and to promote joint projects between people from both sides for the benefit of local populations.

The joint Sudanese-Ethiopian High Committee announced in December 2013 that it reached an agreement to end disputes between farmers from two sides of the border over the ownership of agricultural land.

In November 2014, the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President al-Bashir instructed their Foreign Ministers to fix a date for resuming the border demarcation. The operation had stopped following the death of Ethiopia’s former premier, Meles Zenawi.