Egyptian and Sudanese officials downplay rising tension between the two countries

Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shokry and his Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim al-Ghandour reasserted the strength of the relationship between their respective countries on Tuesday following a rising wave of anger in Sudan over the reported abuse of Sudanese nationals in Egypt.

In a display of good will, Egypt released a second group of Sudanese nationals on Tuesday who were arrested in recent raids, and Egyptian Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend met with his Sudanese counterpart Awad Hassan al-Nour to discuss the pardons and other potential areas for bilateral cooperation.

This comes amid widespread outrage over the killing of more than 20 Sudanese citizens at the border between Sinai and Israel in two separate incidents last week, and reports that negotiations between the two countries over the Renaissance Dam have stalled again.  

The Sudanese Embassy in Cairo sent a letter to Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry earlier this month complaining of increased security campaigns against Sudanese nationals. Reports of the torture of a Sudanese man in Abdeen Police Station in Cairo were also circulated last week, leading to further outrage in Sudan.

Relations with Egypt have been heavily featured in the Sudanese press. One headline in Wednesday’s papers declared that a meeting was taking place at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with “the repercussions of the Egyptian-Sudanese crisis.”  

Sudanese officials have attempted to downplay the tension, denying rumors of the evacuation of Sudanese nationals from Egypt and asserting that Sudan would never use the Nile as a weapon against its neighbor.

Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry denied reports in Egyptian and Sudanese media that the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo sent a fact-finding committee to Arish to investigate the killing of its nationals. Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid also denied reports Sudan is resorting to the United Nations Security Council to claim its right to Halayeb and Shelatin.

But the postponement of a meeting that was scheduled to be held in Sudan this week between Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials has been read by some as a sign of tense relations.

Egypt has been in negotiations with Sudan for years over the building of a dam that it is feared may decrease Egypt’s share of the Nile water. Egyptian media quoted anonymous officials raising concerns of an Ethiopian-Sudanese agreement that might endanger Egypt’s interests, saying Egypt is considering alternatives amid stalled negotiations.


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