Egypt, Sudan denounce row between media outlets of both countries

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 21 Mar 2017

File photo: Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry (R) during talks with his Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim Ghandour (L) (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The foreign ministers of Egypt and Sudan have said that they reject "unacceptable transgressions" that would drive a wedge between the two countries, after exchanges between media figures erupted this week regarding which country has the historical right to Egypt’s southern Halayeb Triangle region.

In a phone conversation on Tuesday, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and his Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim Ghandour expressed their "full rejection of unacceptable transgressions or insults between the two brotherly countries," a statement by Egypt's foreign ministry on Tuesday said.

The two ministers denounced what they called "attempts to stir [agitation] as well as the irresponsible handling [of issues] by some social media users and media outlets," the statement said, without elaborating.

Media outlets in both countries exchanged attacks in recent days after Sudan’s media minister said in public statements that his country's civilisation is older than that of Egypt.

Media figures have also argued over Egypt’s Halayeb Triangle region, which comprises three cities and has been a source of tension between both countries for decades, with rows occurring at times over the right to manage the area's petroleum resources.

During Tuesday's call, the two FMs agreed to put into effect cooperation plans recently endorsed by a joint presidential committee of the two countries.

Also on Tuesday, the Egyptian parliament's national security and defence committee said in a statement that it was surprised by Sudanese officials recently claiming that the two Red Sea cities of Halayeb and Shalateen are part of Sudan and that Egypt should cede them to the Sudanese government.

The committee said that Halayeb and Shalateen have always been part of Egypt, and that Sudan should respect this.

Head of the committee Kamal Amer also told reporters that "it is regrettable that Sudanese officials still insist on occasionally issuing such hostile statements."

"As Sudan itself was part of the pre-1952 Egyptian kingdom, the king of Egypt was also called the king of Egypt and Sudan," said Amer, adding that "when Sudan became an independent state in 1956, Halayeb and Shalateen remained a part of Egypt, and no Sudanese officials said at that time that the two cities were theirs."

Amer added that all internationally-recognised maps show that Halayeb and Shalateen have always been “100 percent Egyptian” and most of the tribes living there are Egyptian.

Amer's statement came in response to Abdallah Sadek, head of Sudan's technical border demarcation committee, who announced last week that newly-discovered documents show that Halayeb and Shalateen are historically part of Sudan.

Mostafa Bakri, a journalist and a member of the Egyptian parliament's national security committee, told reporters that a meeting between Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir should be held to resolve this issue.

Bakri and other MPs believe that Sudan's “hostile statements” came after Sheikha Moza, the mother of Qatar's emir Tamim bin Hamad, visited Sudan last week.

"We hope that the media in Egypt and Sudan will stop pouring oil on the fire and not allow Qatar to drive a wedge between the two countries," said Bakri.

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