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Eritrea’s President Visits Sudan amid Tensions over Ethiopia

Eritrea’s President Visits Sudan amid Tensions over Ethiopia

Tuesday, 4 May, 2021 - 18:15
President of the Sudanese Transitional Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, left, greets Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki at the Khartoum airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP)

Eritrea’s president arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for talks with Sudanese officials amid tensions over a longtime border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.

President Isaias Afwerki landed at Khartoum’s international airport and was received by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling sovereign council. The two leaders then began closed-door talks on cooperation and ways to develop ties between the two countries, according to a statement from the Sudanese sovereign council.

It said the two also discussed regional issues in apparent reference to the border tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan and a decade-long dispute over a massive dam Ethiopia is building over the Blue Nile. The statement did not provide further details.

The decades-long disagreement centers on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders in the al-Fashqa area, which Ethiopian farmers have cultivated it for years. The Tigray conflict in Ethiopia, which has resulted in an influx of refugees into Sudan, has exacerbated the dispute.

The dispute escalated in November after Sudan deployed troops to the territories it says are occupied by Ethiopian farmers and militias.

Sudan and Ethiopia have since held rounds of talks to try and settle the dispute, most recently in Khartoum in December, but have not made progress.

Khartoum has said its forces have reclaimed most of its territory. But it has called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points it says are inside Sudan under an agreement that demarcated the borders between the two nations in the early 1900s.

Ethiopia, however, accused Sudan of taking advantage of the deadly conflict in Tigray to enter Ethiopian territory and loot property, kill civilians and displace thousands of people. The Tigray fighting has sent over 70,000 Ethiopia refugees into Sudan.

The Eritrean delegation included Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab, said Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel.

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