Sudan recalls envoy to Egypt as tensions flare

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The relations between one-time allies Egypt and Sudan have soured over ongoing disputes.
The relations between one-time allies Egypt and Sudan have soured over ongoing disputes.

Sudan summoned its ambassador from Cairo for consultations in the latest sign of the one-time allies' rapidly deteriorating ties

Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt on Thursday for consultations after tension renewed between the two neighbors. Reacting to the news, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said it learned of Sudan's decision through its embassy in Khartoum. Egypt is "comprehensively assessing the situation in an effort to make the appropriate response," the ministry said, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).

Cairo and Khartoum are locked in a long-standing dispute over the border region of Halayeb. Egypt has also accused Sudan of siding with Ethiopia in a row over a hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia on the Nile.

Earlier, Egypt proposed Sudan's exclusion from the negotiations and suggested proceeding with only Ethiopia while getting the World Bank involved to resolve the conflict, according to Ethiopian newspaper Addis Fortune.

Egypt maintains that Sudan has taken Ethiopia's side in Cairo's dispute with Addis Ababa over a massive dam being built on the Nile by Ethiopia.

Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa, has poisoned relations between Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan. The dispute centers on the control of a section of the Nile that stretches 6,695 kilometers from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean and is the economic lifeblood of all three countries.

Cairo says the dam would threaten water supplies that have fed Egypt's agriculture and economy for thousands of years. Cairo fears the 6,000-megawatt dam will reduce the flow it depends on for drinking water and irrigation. Egyptian officials say safeguarding the country's quota of Nile water is a matter of national security.

Ethiopia says the GERD, which it hopes will help make it Africa's largest power exporter, will have no major effect on Egypt. It accuses Cairo of flexing its political muscle to deter financiers from backing other Ethiopian power projects.

Delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Cairo in November to approve a study by a French firm commissioned to assess the dam's environmental and economic impact, but negotiations stalled when they failed to agree on the initial report with each blaming others for blocking progress.

Egypt's occupation of the Halayeb triangle, which lies near the Red Sea in a mineral-rich border region, is another bone of contention. Khartoum says Halayeb has been part of its sovereign territory since shortly after its independence in 1956. Last May, Sudan banned the import of Egyptian agricultural and animal products, delivering a blow to bilateral trade.

Cairo has also fretted over a recent rapprochement between Khartoum, Turkey and Qatar, Egypt's regional rivals. Late last month, Egypt's pro-government media lambasted Sudan over a visit from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Khartoum. Erdoğan and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued a joint statement emphasizing willingness to boost bilateral relations. Erdoğan visited Sudan as part of a three-day, tri-country visit to Africa.

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