Egypt slams Russia Today over Halayeb poll, cancels foreign minister interview with TV channel

Ahram Onine , Saturday 12 May 2018

The Halayeb Triangle in the border region between Egypt and Sudan has been a source of tension between the two countries since Sudan gained independence in 1956

File Photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's foreign ministry announced Saturday that it cancelled a televised interview between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Moscow-based TV network Russia Today (RT) on Monday after the TV network published on its Arabic website a poll about the status of the Halayeb Triangle in the border region between Egypt and Sudan.

"Egypt's foreign ministry has contacted its Russian counterpart to express its complete rejection of the poll published by the Russian government-funded RT, demanding at the same time an urgent explanation for such an action," according a statement Saturday by Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

Abu Zeid revealed that the foreign ministry cancelled an interview planned for Monday between Shoukry and RT in Moscow against the backdrop of periodic meetings of Egyptian foreign and defence ministers with their Russian counterparts.

On Friday, RT published a poll on its Arabic website and Arabic Twitter account asking readers whether the Halayeb Triangle was Egyptian or Sudanese territory.

Located on the southern border with Sudan, the Halayeb Triangle has been a source of tension between the two countries since Sudan gained independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956.

Cairo exercises complete political and administrative control over the 20,580 square-kilometre region, which is inhabited by tribes that trace their roots to both Sudan and Egypt.

The Triangle comprises the cities of Halayeb, Abu Ramad and Shalateen.

Egypt insists that the Halayeb Triangle is part of its territory as set by an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium in 1899, which defines Egypt’s southern border as the 22nd parallel north.

Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) expressed Friday its extreme regret that RT had published the poll, summoning Saturday the head of the RT office in Cairo over the action.

In a statement published Friday, the SIS said that as soon as RT published the poll, it contacted the foreign ministry to "agree on the steps and procedures to be taken" against what it described as a "violation against respectable media ethics" and "respect of state sovereignty and unity of its territories."

The SIS added that it summoned local accredited correspondents of RT to inform them of "Egypt's total rejection and condemnation" of publishing the poll in such a way.

The SIS also said it would seek to know from RT officials the circumstances behind the publishing of the poll.

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