Cairo meeting of Egyptian and Sudanese foreign ministers fails to achieve tangible progress to patch up differences.
BY AL JAZEERA
Officials from Sudan and Egypt on Saturday held “honest” and “transparent” discussions following months of tension between the two Arab neighbours, but appeared to make little headway to patch up their differences, primarily over a border region held by Cairo and claimed by Khartoum.
Sudan’s visiting foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, spoke of the “holy” relations binding the two Nile-Basin nations, but reported no tangible progress in a joint news conference they held in the Egyptian capital after talks.
“There are deeply entrenched relations capable of overcoming whatever is inflicted upon them,” Shoukry said, striking a positive note. “We are working toward a frank dialogue capable of removing misunderstandings and confusion.”
At the centre of tensions between the two is sovereignty over the so-called Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea, an issue that dates back to colonial times. Egypt refuses to submit the dispute to international arbitration, a Sudanese request.
The tension was further stoked when Sudan decided recently to ban all agricultural and animal imports from Egypt over health concerns, a claim hotly disputed by Cairo.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last month accused Egypt of arming rebels fighting against his government in the western Darfur region. Egypt has denied the charge.
On Saturday, Ghandour, the Sudanese foreign minister, told reporters he delivered a message from Bashir to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on bilateral relations and conveyed what he called some of Bashir’s “concerns.”
He did not elaborate but added that the decision to ban Egyptian farm and animal imports was made on a technical basis and acknowledged that a Cabinet decision to ratify the ban last week may have been ill-timed.
He said he proposed joint patrols with Egypt to monitor their porous land border to ensure that fighters don’t cross into Egypt and carry out attacks or join aremd groups based in the Sinai peninsula. Cairo maintains that Sudan has offered refuge to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it labels as “terrorist”.