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Egypt reiterates its readiness to mediate between Khartoum and Juba

January 3, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Egyptian President, Mohamed Mursi reiterated his willingness to bridge the gaps between Sudan and South Sudan over post-secession issues and to end the current disputes between the two countries.

Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi receives the Sudanese FM Ali Karti on 3 Jan 2013 (photo Egyptian presidency)

The Egyptian president made the remarks following a meeting between with Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti who handed him a message from president Omer Al-Bashir on bilateral relations and recent developments with South Sudan.

Yasir Ali, spokesperson of the Egyptian presidency, said that Mursi welcomed the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the two countries and repeated Egypt’s readiness to play a role in the ongoing efforts to mediate the disputes or to narrow the gaps between the two countries.

Last December, in a meeting with the Sudanese presidential assistant Abdel-Rahman Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Mursi announced Egypt’s keenness to be involved in the ongoing African and international efforts to settle the post-secession issues between the two countries.

Egypt which usually gives a special attention to its relations with Sudan and South Sudan, has recently been paralysed by the recent political changes in the country after the fall of the regime of the former president Hosni Mubarak.

Sudan’s foreign minister, in a speech he made after inaugurating the new building of the Sudanese embassy in Cairo, said the two countries plan for more joint investment projects in the commercial and tourism sectors.

Karti stated that "despite the political upheavals in both countries, we are now opening a big door to develop bilateral relations aiming achieve (economic) integration and close cooperation".

The newly elected Islamist government in Egypt has made efforts to strengthen its relationships with its neighbours in the Nile Basin including Sudan and South Sudan.

Sudan and Egypt share many interests, but security and water are at the top of the list. Egypt has concerns about the South Sudan’s intention to join the Antibes Water agreement to distribute allocations of the water among the Nile Basin countries.

After South Sudan captured Sudanese hostages during a border conflict in April, Juba accepted Egyptian mediation in order to negotiate their release and has expressed interest in future collaboration with Egypt.

Ethiopia has been the main venue for negotiations following South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, with an African Union panel, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the lead mediator. With elections this year in South Africa it remains to be seen if Mbeki will be able to commit as much of his time to the ongoing issues between Sudan and South Sudan in 2013, compared to the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, Sudanese opponents in Cairo organised a sit-in outside the new embassy to protest against the ongoing conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The protesters received the minister with anti-government slogans among the presence of a large deployment of Egyptian police and security agents.