Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour (L) shaking hands with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (M) – Egypt Today/Amr Moustafa
CAIRO – 5 June 2017: Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour arrived in Cairo on Saturday in a visit that is seen as a potential step to defuse tensions between the two Nile neighbors.
In a joint press conference between Ghandour and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Ghandour said he met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and delivered him a message on behalf of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
According to Ghandour, Bashir’s message aims to boost relations between the two countries. It also raised several concerns of the Sudanese government, including those related to the current situation in Darfur.
In May 2017, tensions between Egypt and Sudan deteriorated when Bashir accused Egypt of providing military support to rebels in the restive Darfur region.
The Sudanese army and pro-government militia engaged in clashes with two rebel groups earlier in May. President Bashir accused Egypt and South Sudan of supporting the rebels, an accusation which both countries denied.
Ghandour said that President Sisi was “clear” and “transparent” as usual. He added that Sisi stressed the importance of solving disagreements between the two countries through joint meetings, particularly between military and security officials.
The Sudanese Foreign Minister said Sisi and Bashir have met around 18 times during the recent period, pointing out that this is a phenomenon which does not happen between any other two presidents worldwide, emphasizing the deep relations between Egypt and Sudan.
As for Sudan’s decision that Egyptian men aging between 19 and 49 must obtain entry visas before entering Sudan, Ghandour said that his government made this decision after some Egypt media reports claimed that extremists were infiltrating into Sudan to plot against Egypt from the Sudanese territories.
Sudan’s decision to require entry visas from Egyptians contradicts four freedom of movement agreements signed between the two countries.
For his part, Shoukry affirmed “strong” relations between Egypt and Sudan. He also added that ways of boosting and strengthening relations and enhancing cooperation between the two countries were addressed during the meeting.
The disputed border regions of Halayeb and Shalateen, currently under Egyptian sovereignty, have been a matter of dispute between Cairo and Khartoum for a long time.
Shoukry said that Egypt will keep on supporting Sudanese concerns. He also affirmed the keenness of the two countries to hold continuous periodic political discussions and to uphold all Egyptian-Sudanese agreements.
He said terrorism cannot be fought individually; it is mutual cooperation that is essential to eliminate this phenomenon.
Ghandour also suggested turning a new leaf regarding relations between Egypt and Sudan by addressing the possibility of reinstating the Nile Valley Parliament, a body comprising parliamentarians from both countries, in a bid to restore good relations.
Both Shoukry and Ghandour spoke of the “holy” and “brotherly” relations binding the two countries.
Relations between Egypt and Sudan have been strained since 1995 following the assassination attempt of then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, which Egypt accused Sudan’s government of facilitating.
Relations between the two countries have further strained in the past couple of years through multiple other cases such as the Sudan’s support to the Ethiopian dam and the ban of Egyptian agricultural products to Sudanese markets.