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Egypt, Sudan agree to cool down tensions

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Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry and Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim Ghandour speak to the media in Khartoum on 20 April 2017 (ST Photo)
April 20, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and Egypt agreed Thursday to work together to ease tensions between the two neighbouring countries through the control of hostile media campaigns and to curb activities of opposition groups in their territories.

The two agreements have been reached in a series of meetings between the Sudanese officials and a visiting Egyptian delegation led by the Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, who met also with President Omer al-Bashir.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and his visiting counterpart discussed the Egyptian media campaign against the Sudan, the presence of Darfur holdout rebel groups in Cairo, the ban on fruit and vegetable imports from Egypt over sanitary concerns, and recent claims by the Sudanese government that Cairo supported UN sanctions on Sudan.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meetings, Ghandour said his government was dissatisfied with the hostile campaign carried by the Egyptian media on the Sudan. He stressed that the excessive media campaign began following the Sudanese authorities’ decision to ban the entry of Egyptian agricultural products.

"The Egyptian media exceeded reasonable usage limits in such events, where criticism has been exceeded to insult the Sudanese people and the country’s political leadership," he said.

The joint statement released at the end of the visit called on the media in the two countries to be cautious and accurate in reporting news and to promote common interests. It further said the two sides agreed that " the competent information institutions in the two countries should coordinate to sign a media ethics code to ensure the preservation of the noble interests between the two brotherly peoples."

Ghandour further echoed statements by the Sudanese President last February about the support provided by Egyptian intelligence service to the Sudanese opposition groups, when he stressed on the need for the intelligence agencies to increase joint cooperation to enhance confidence and to not provide support for the armed opposition groups or to harbour it.

"Shukri told us that the Darfur armed movements in Cairo do not have the freedom to practice any political action," he said.

BAN OF EGYPTIAN PRODUCTS

For his part, the Egyptian minister focused on the suspension of import of Egyptian agricultural products, saying the issue “affects the interests of both sides”.

Shukri was referring to a recent decision by the Sudanese government to ban the importation of additional processed agricultural products from Egypt on safety and public health grounds. Sudan has already suspended the import of fruits and vegetables since September 2016 .

The ban “has taken a non-positive development damaging to the (bilateral) relationship and is not based on clear technical criteria,” he said, adding “We have addressed this matter and I hope that we will find radical solutions so as not it would not further affect the positive relationship."

Previously Ghandour attributed Sudan’s decision to ban Egyptian agricultural products to the reports published or broadcasted by the Egyptian media on the contamination of fruits and vegetables.

Earlier the Egyptian government on called on Sudan to lift the suspension of its agricultural exports to Sudan, but Khartoum disregarded the call over growing suspicions and tensions in the bilateral relations.

Last January, the meeting between the two foreign ministers discussed the ban of Egyptian products but remained without effects.

The Egyptian minister also spoke about the recent claims by the Sudanese government that an Egyptian diplomat had the Arab and African decisions on the UN sanctions against Sudan and expressed his support for it a consultations meeting of Darfur sanctions committee earlier this month.

The Egyptian minister denied the accusations, saying his country does not conspire against the Sudan but seeks to protect its interests.

"Egypt is looking after Sudan’s interests in international and regional institutions and adopting one vision for two states and this approach has not changed," he further said.

The two ministers did not mention the dispute between the two countries over Halayed triangle.

(ST)

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