Sudan is returning its ambassador to Cairo “very soon,” Sudanese foreign minister said Thursday, more than a month since the envoy was recalled for consultations in a move that signaled deteriorating relations at the time.
Ibrahim Ghandour spoke at joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry following talks in Cairo that included the two countries’ intelligence chiefs.
The talks are the latest attempt by the two Nile-basin nations to defuse months-long tensions, triggered mainly by Sudan’s revival of a longstanding border dispute and its perceived support for Ethiopia amid its tussle with Egypt over the likely impact of a massive dam being built on the Nile. Cairo fears the dam will reduce its vital water share, a claim that Ethiopia dismisses as unfounded.
“The road is paved for the return of Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt,” said Ghandour, who said the Cairo talks were an encouraging start for resolving bilateral issues.
Shoukry said a joint committee meeting chaired by Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir would be held later this year in Khartoum. The two leaders met on the sidelines of an African summit in Addis Ababa last month.
None of the ministers or the joint statement mentioned the longstanding border dispute.
In recent months, pro-government media in both countries engaged in a rough exchange of words, with Egyptian media vilifying Sudan over expanding its ties with Turkey and Qatar, Cairo’s regional nemesis.
The spat followed a recent visit to Sudan by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and an agreement between the two countries to develop the strategic Red Sea island of Suakin. During the visit, the chiefs of staff from Sudan, Turkey and Qatar met in Khartoum, further fueling suspicions in the Egyptian media.
During Thursday’s news conference, Ghandour denied claims in the Egyptian media that Suakin would be home to a Turkish military base, saying the Turks only suggested renovating Ottoman-era buildings on the island.
Egypt’s relations with Turkey have been fraught with tension since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi following mass protests against his divisive, one-year rule. Turkey has since been constantly critical of el-Sissi’s rule.
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