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Sudan Tribune

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Eritrean President back home after two-day visit to Sudan

June 13, 2006 (ASMARA) — Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki returned home today after a two-day visit to Sudan at the invitation of Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir. The two neighbouring countries agreed to normalize bilateral ties.

al-bashir_afwerki_goodby.jpgIn Asmara after his return, Afwerki told reporters that he held talks with al-Bashir and other senior Sudanese government officials on past, present and future relations between Eritrea and Sudan and that all the meetings were successful.

He said that the two sides agreed to cooperate on enhancing the strategic bilateral relations and make good use of past experience. He further stated that there prevailed mutual understanding on all the issues discussed.

Regarding the peace dialogue due to get underway today between the Sudanese government and the East Sudan Front, President Isaias expressed hope about it and pointed out that although Eritrea has an interest, role and participation in the peace dialogue, the solution would be of lasting nature only if it is brought about by the Sudanese themselves. “A solution brought on by external pressure would be short-lived,” President Isaias stated. Hence, it is Eritrea’s desire that in order for the solution to be exemplary and of benefit to future generations, it should be one that materializes by the Sudanese themselves.

On future Eritrean-Sudanese relations, President Isaias underscored that relations between the two countries is not only strategic, geographic and deeply rooted in history but also serves the mutual benefit of both peoples in all spheres.

He stressed that both sides need to draw lessons from past experiences and that the present juncture is favorable for the two countries to look into the future more than ever before.

Al-Bashir has affirmed importance of Eritrea’s role in tackling the issue of eastern Sudan as for the deeply rooted relations linking the two countries. In press statements upon seeing off Afeworki at Khartoum airport Tuesday, Al-Bashir said Eritrea had a remarkable role within the framework of the IGAD to reach peace in the south.

He added that Eritrea has also contributed actively to Abuja negotiations on Darfur crisis, saying that, now, the whole file of the eastern Sudan issue is in Eritrea, a matter which affirms depth of bilateral relations.

Observers in Khartoum say the warming welcome for the visiting president must not hidden the fact that the building of reliance and mutual trust could take some time between the two countries.

Sudan is waiting to see the seriousness of Eritrea on the question of the eastern rebels and Darfur. Khartoum also has to prove its good faith by dealing quickly and promptly with the presence of the Eritrean opposition in Khartoum.

Among the two, there is Ethiopia’s Zenawi who can’t understand the possibility for Khartoum to have good relations with Asmara and Addis Ababa at the same time. The advantage for Asmara that it can count on SPLM and other members of the former opposition alliance to defend its cause in Khartoum.

(ST)

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