Egypt: Sudan’s Bashir arrives in Cairo amid easing tensions

President Sisi receives spirited Bashir, announces restoration of ties and enhanced cooperation.

sisi bashir
Khartoum withdrew its ambassador to Cairo in January without giving a reason [Egyptian presidency/EPA-EFE]

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir met Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on Monday as part of a one-day trip aimed at mending ties between the two countries.

The two leaders discussed Addis Ababa’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam currently under construction which – upon completion – could threaten Egypt’s fresh water supply.

“As the Nile River is a lifeline for the people of the valley of the Nile, we agreed on working together along with our brothers in Ethiopia to reach an agreement of a partnership in the Nile that benefits everybody and to continue working on the results of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia’s trilateral summit regarding the Renaissance dam,” Sisi said.

Bashir, in turn, commended Sisi’s leadership and wished Egypt good luck in advance of general elections to take place later in March.

“Egypt is now witnessing a period of elections and in such a period, in many countries, there is a chance of insecurity, and we pray to God to save Egypt and keep it stable and secure,” Sudan’s president said.

Host of issues 

Relations between the two countries took a hard hit when Egypt conceded the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia in 2016, leading to a reconfiguration of Cairo’s maritime borders with Khartoum.

Sudan filed a complaint with the UN Security Council in 2017 accusing Egypt of attempting to illegally annex the border area, commonly referred to as the Halayeb triangle. 

The disputed territory – consisting of about 20,000-square km – has long been a thorn in the two neighbours’ rocky relationship.

The dispute is the result of Britain’s 1899 demarcation of the two territories at a time when Sudan was still part of the Egyptian kingdom.

Things took a turn for the worse after Khartoum announced it would hand over control of the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey to restore an old Ottoman city and construct a new naval dock.

Analysts say this led Egypt to deploy troops to a UAE military base in Eritrea in early January 2018, which shortly thereafter prompted Khartoum to recall its ambassador to Cairo.

Sudan’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, announced in February that his country’s ambassador will return to Egypt after meeting his Egyptian counterpart. 

Source: Al Jazeera