Egypt rejects Sudanese call to negotiate over Halayib and Shalateen

Ayat Al Tawy , Monday 18 Apr 2016

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Reuters)

Egypt reiterated on Sunday that it has sovereignty over the territory of Halayib and Shalateen, hours after Sudan issued a fresh call for negotiations to resolve the decades-long dispute over the contested border territory.

"Sudan calls on its brothers in Egypt to take part in direct negotiations to resolve this issue, along the lines of what took place with the brothers in Saudi Arabia," the Sudanese foreign ministry said on Sunday night, referring to a recent deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia to acknowledge Saudi sovereignty over two Red Sea islands.

Egypt's foreign ministry issued a statement a few hours later saying that the region is "Egyptian land that is subjected to Egyptian sovereignty," refraining from giving any "additional comment" on the Sudanese remarks.

The dispute between the two countries over the Halayib Triangle region, located on Egypt's southern border with Sudan and comprising three cities, has lingered for decades, starting shortly after Sudan gained independence from joint Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956.

Cairo currently exercises control over the territory, inhabited by tribes that trace their roots to both Sudan and Egypt.

The triangle comprises the cities of Halayib, Abu Ramad and Shalateen.

The Sudanese foreign ministry proposed resorting to "international arbitration in compliance with international laws and conventions as a criterion in such cases," referring to an international arbitration ruling that returned Taba, an enclave north of Aqaba Gulf, to Egypt in 1989 after years of border dispute with Israel.

Sudan's foreign ministry cited a 1958 memo Khartoum submitted to the United Nations Security Council which it says "affirms [Sudan's] sovereign rights over the Halayib and Shalateen regions."

Khartoum added that it would "closely follow" the Egyptian-Saudi deal and would take necessary measures that "safeguard Sudan's entrenched sovereign rights over the Halayib and Shalateen areas."

The announcement by the Egyptian government earlier in April that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir would be returned to Saudi Arabia sparked public outcry, with critics accusing President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of "selling" the islands.

Egyptian and Saudi officials say the islands belong to the Gulf kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh had asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them\

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