Egypt responds to Sudanese remarks on disputed border area, says Halayeb is 'Egyptian land'

Monday 18-04-2016 01:13 PM

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Oct.18,2014. ASWATMASRIYA

CAIRO, Apr 18 (Aswat Masriya) – Commenting on Sudanese remarks regarding the Halayeb Triangle, located on the Egyptian-Sudanese border, Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that the disputed area is “Egyptian land".

Earlier on Sunday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement calling on Egypt to hold talks on the Halayeb and Shalateen towns “like what happened with ... the Saudi kingdom regarding the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir.”

The Egyptian cabinet signed a maritime border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia earlier in April stipulating that the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir are part of Saudi territorial waters.

Saudi Arabia had "leased" the islands to Egypt in 1950 to provide for their protection, and Egypt has been doing so ever since, the cabinet said in a statement on Apr. 9, provoking public ire among critics in Egypt who argue that the islands are Egyptian.

On Wednesday, following the Egyptian-Saudi deal, the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo called for holding talks between the two countries over Halayeb and Shalateen, or resorting to international arbitration, in statements to Aswat Masriya. The Egyptian foreign ministry declined to comment on the Sudanese ambassador’s remarks at the time.

But following Khartoum’s statement, issued on Sunday, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on his Facebook page on the same day that “Halayeb and Shalateen are Egyptian land, and they fall under Egyptian sovereignty.”

“Egypt has no additional comment on the Sudanese foreign ministry’s statement,” Abu Zeid added.

The Halayeb Triangle, which lies on the border between Egypt and Sudan, has long been contested between both countries.

The region is inhabited by tribes whose historical roots are traced to Egypt and Sudan.

Sudan has long maintained the Halayeb triangle is Sudanese territory. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir previously said that Khartoum has documents proving that the area is Sudanese.

Halayeb is considered Egypt’s southern gate to the Red Sea. Its primary role is to provide customs services to those crossing over to the Sudanese borders.

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