CAIRO: Egypt and Sudan have agreed to strengthen military coordination to prevent smuggling on their shared border, Sudanese Minister of Investment Mustafa Othman Ismail told Ashorooq net Sunday.
Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi met Saturday with Ismail in Cairo for discussing bilateral relations between both countries, Youm7 reported.
The meeting discussed the opening of two border crossings: Ashkit-Qasstal set for opening in mid-August, and Arqin set for opening at the end of this year.
Ashkit was originally set for opening in mid-July according to Sudanese Foreign Minister Salah Onsi, MENA reported on July 11.
Two new international roads were paved for the crossings: the 929-kilometer Ashkit-Halfa-Khartoum Road and the 352-kilometer Donqul-Arqin road.
On June 26, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visited Khartoum to meet his Sudanese counterpart Omar Hassan al-Bashir to discuss bilateral relations.
Trade volume between Egypt and Sudan increased to 839 million EGP ($117.33 million) in 2013 compared with 772 million EGP in 2012, recording an 8.7 percent increase according to statistics from the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce on March 20.
Halaib and Shalateen crisis
Despite publicly cordial relations, Egypt and Sudan have actually been locked in a border dispute over the Red Sea Halaib Triangle area since Sudanese independence in 1956. Sudan claims the area, but it is under Egyptian Administration.
On May 6, 2014, a Sudanese military force entered the Mrabetya area in Halaib, claiming to be defending the “sovereignty of Sudan,” CNN reported. However, the Egyptian army deployed military forces in the area, causing Sudanese troops to withdraw, Youm7 reported.
The Halaib Triangle is a 20 square kilometer enclave on the Red Sea coast occupied by tribes from both Egypt and Sudan who lived there before the demarcation of the borders.
The triangle is rich with magnesium deposits.