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Egypt's Sisi in Khartoum

Ahram Weekly , Thursday 25 Oct 2018
Sisi, Bashir
File Photo: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) escorted by his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir, in Khartoum on July 20, 2018 (A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency)
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President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is travelling to the Sudanese capital Khartoum today where he will meet with his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir.

The president is scheduled to attend the Egyptian Sudanese Supreme Joint Committee, headed by Sudan, to oversee the signing of a number of bilateral agreements.

Plans to establish a railway link to connect the two countries and facilitate the transportation of food and other strategic commodities will be discussed.

According to the president’s spokesman Bassam Radi, businessmen from the two countries will meet to explore investment possibilities and discuss plans for an exhibition for pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies.

Presidents Al-Bashir and Al-Sisi are also expected to discuss regional and international threats and challenges, including the situations in South Sudan, Libya, Palestine and Syria and Red Sea and water security. Egyptian-Sudanese relations have improved recently, as evidenced in the opening of border crossings, the building of a connection linking the two countries’ national grids and increased security, economic, trade and parliamentary cooperation.

Hani Raslan, a political analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, says relations between Cairo and Khartoum took a downturn in December amid a flurry of tit-for-tat criticisms in the Egyptian and Sudanese press.

Khartoum subsequently banned the import of some agricultural goods from Egypt.

Tensions peaked when Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt and accused Egypt and Eritrea of supporting rebel groups in the eastern state of Kassala.

“Al-Sisi is keen to maintain good relations with Sudan,” says Raslan, “and the two countries recently began joint security cooperation against opposition groups.”

Outstanding differences between Khartoum and Cairo include the disputed border territory of Halayeb and the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which Sudan backs largely because it needs the electricity the dam will generate, a position which Raslan says is unlikely to change any time soon.

“Egypt is going to provide Sudan with electricity in an attempt to reduce its dependence on power the Ethiopian dam will generate,” says Raslan.

It is Al-Sisi’s sixth visit to Sudan since he was elected in 2014.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 October, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Al-Sisi in Khartoum 

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