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Sudan, Turkey deny military naval base deal

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President Omer al-Bashir, exchange cooperation agreement between the two countries in Khartoum on 24 Dec 2017 (SUNA Photo)

December 28, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Turkish President and Sudanese government Thursday denied an alleged agreement to build a military naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast island of Suakin.

The denial came after attacks by the Egyptian media and a Saudi newspaper slamming the Sudanese - Turkish deal, pointing that it aims to destabilise the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who removed from power the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

“There is no such thing as a military port,” said President Erdogan in response to a question about the nature of Suakin deal during his return flight to Ankara from an African tour published by the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper on Thursday.

Following a trip to the ruined Ottoman port city on Tuesday, an agreement was reached by Erdogan and Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir to rebuild the ruined town and to construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels.

In parallel to Erdogan statements, Sudan’s embassies in Cairo and Riyadh issued strongly worded statements rejecting the claims by the pro-government Egyptian government media and Okaz newspaper that Turkey seeks to harm the security of Arab countries.

"Some foolish and agitator Egyptian media found in the visit of the Turkish President Erdogan to Sudan an opportunity to attack Sudan, its (sovereign) options, and even underestimating its leadership and the history of the nation," said Sudan’s Ambassador to Cairo in a press statement on Wednesday.

Also, the Sudanese embassy in Saudi Arabia issued a statement denying claims by Okaz newspaper in an article titled "Sudan’s ’Suakin under the control of Erdogan’’ stressing that Suakin is under the control of Sudanese government. The statement added that such claims are an insult to Sudan and its right to develop ties with other countries.

Observers in Khartoum see the media attack in the Egyptian media and Saudi newspaper as a coordinated campaign by the anti-Qatar alliance countries on the government of President al-Bashir.

They further point to the maritime border agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia which acknowledges the disputed Halayeb as an Egyptian territory.

In April 2017, the Egyptian media had already attacked the Sudanese pyramids of Meroe after a visit to the area by Sheikha Mouza bint Nasser of Qatar to these archaeological sites.

Relations between Cairo and Khartoum are strained over the disputed border area of Halayeb and Sudan’s support to the Ethiopian dam on the Blue Nile.

The relations between Egypt and Turkey are strained since the July 2013 coup d’état by Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. In November 2014 Erdogan said he had refused to take part in a UN meeting attended by the Egyptian president.

(ST)

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