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Egypt and Sudan schedule talks following escalation of Halayeb dispute

Egypt and Sudan are scheduled to hold discussions in Khartoum in the first two weeks of April, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, two days after Sudan made moves on disputed territory on the Egypt-Sudan border.

Abdallah al-Sadeq, head of Sudan’s Technical Committee for Border Demarcation (TCBD), revealed on Sunday that a committee had been formed to draw up a plan to make the Halayeb Triangle, a disputed 20 thousand kilometer area on Egypt’s south-east border, “Egyptian-free.”

“The committee held a preparatory meeting to develop guidelines and a road map to explore ways to evict the Egyptians from the area through diplomacy,” Sadeq said, according to the Sudan Tribune. The newspaper reported that the committee comprises the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the National Records Office and the TCBD.

The move comes weeks after a televised interview with Saudi-Arabian satellite channel Al-Arabiya, in which Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir threatened to resort to the United Nations Security Council to settle the Halayeb dispute.

Last April, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry asked Egypt to either engage in direct negotiations over the area or take the issue to international arbitration, a proposal Egypt rejected.

The Halayeb triangle has been one of the major sticking points in Egyptian-Sudanese relations since the Egyptian military occupied it in 1995.

In 2015, Egypt created an electoral district in Halayeb in the 2015 parliamentary elections, a move criticized by Sudan.

Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam has also proved a source of contention between the two states. In 2013 Sudan changed its position on the dam, expressing support for its construction. Egypt opposes the dam’s construction as it will affect its share of Nile water.

Egypt has also claimed that Sudan harbors members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

Bashir has previously leveled accusations against Egyptian institutions, specifically its civilian intelligence services. Last February he claimed that during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first visit to Sudan, “The man came without an accompanying delegation or guards, because all his security bodies refuse to come to Sudan. Twenty-four hours beforehand, we received information that the Egyptian president was coming to Khartoum. No protocol officers came, or security, nor did they ask about the program for the visit. In fact, they urged him not to come at the last minute.”

Despite the apparent diplomatic disagreements, a Sudanese journalist who asked to remain anonymous previously told Mada Masr is security cooperation between the Egyptian and Sudanese governments.

“I know they [Sudanese authorities] asked some Brotherhood figures to leave Sudan at the request of Egyptian intelligence, and that some of these individuals have since relocated to Turkey and Qatar,” the journalist said, adding that Egyptian security agencies have kept tabs on Sudanese opposition figures that have visited Cairo.

He said, “Sadiq al-Mahdi (leader of Sudan’s National Umma Party), was prevented from engaging in any public activities, and members of the Sudanese Communist Party were prevented from taking part in a seminar at the office of one of Egypt’s socialist parties.”

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