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Egypt plans South Sudan diplomatic representation

Cairo is telling Khartoum and Juba that it wishes to have strong and positive relations with both the north and south of Sudan

Dina Ezzat, Saturday 15 Jan 2011
Votes are counted at a polling station in Juba, South Sudan (Photo: AP)

 As the referendum on the independence of South Sudan ends today, Cairo is conveying assurances to the rulers of the north and south of Sudan that it is determined to keep the best of relations and close cooperation with both sides, as well as work to promote friendly relations between Khartoum and Juba.

"We have closely followed developments in the referendum and we are willing to accept the independence of South Sudan should this be the will of the southern Sudan people," said an Egyptian official.

According to the official, who follows closely developments in Egyptian-Sudanese relations, the Egyptian authorities are currently examining "a package of measures", both political and economic, to help promote stability in the north and south and to advance the chances of peace between the two sides.

"We had already started working on this matter in meetings that we held during the autumn of 2010 whereby we hosted representatives of the north and south."

The ruling concept of Egyptian efforts on Sudan is to underline the chances for development, prosperity and peace along the Nile Valley and to avoid any confrontations over borders or resources, the source added.

To serve this purpose, he suggested, Egypt is working with neighbouring countries to encourage the two side to be partners in peace and development. Egypt, he added, is getting some positive responses but it still needs to intensify consultations and to lobby more support.

Meanwhile, a source from South Sudan told Ahram Online that Juba received assurances from Cairo "at the highest level" that Egypt would among the first countries to recognise the will of the southern Sudan people when the results of the referendum will be announced, in mid-February.

An Egyptian diplomat affirmed the statement and added that by the time the transitional period, between the unity of Sudan and the independence of the south, is announced in July, Egypt will have found an ambassador to the south.

"But whatever happens on the track of our relations with Juba, we will remain very keen on our relations with Khartoum, and we are confident we can create a win/win situation for this trilateral relationship that might eventually promote a new form of unity of choice between the north and south of Sudan," he said.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian diplomat in Khartoum told Ahram Online that the Egyptian diplomatic mission there would not be downsized as a new diplomatic mission in Juba opens. "There is already a consulate for Egypt in Juba and this will be expanded and eventually upgraded into an embassy. But our operation in Khartoum will remain unaffected; there are so many interests that link Cairo and Khartoum, and these will be expanded not decreased," he said.

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