Egypt, Sudan to Cut Forces in Disputed Halaib Triangle
Egypt and Sudan have decided to reduce their forces in a disputed border area known as the Halaib Triangle, a Khartoum newspaper reported on Friday, cited by Reuters.
The independent Al Sahafa quoted Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail as saying the decision followed a summit held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday.
"The two countries are now in the process of reducing their military presence and to move to another phase that will turn Halaib into an area of integration," Ismail said.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Hassan Al Bashir agreed at the summit to reactivate ties dormant since the mid-1990s.
Ties between Egypt and Sudan have been strained by alleged Sudanese sheltering and subsidizing of terrorists who attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in June 1995.
Relations improved markedly after Bashir sidelined Islamist ideologue Hassan Turabi, once his close ally, in December 1999. Egypt had regarded Turabi as the guiding force behind a drive to turn Sudan into a bastion of Islamic radicalism, said Reuters.
Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all accused Sudan of training and arming Islamic extremists from their countries in an attempt to subvert their existing governments. The three countries also charge that Sudan is funded by Iran, and is using Iranian military assistance in the Sudanese campaign against Christian and animist rebels in the south.
According to Washington Report on the Middle East, the issue of the so-called "Halaib Triangle'' on Egypt's southeastern border with Sudan dates back to the 1899 Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement for Sudan, which set the border between Egypt and Sudan at the 22nd degree of latitude.
However, in 1902, for administrative convenience, Britain drew a separate "administrative boundary" under which a triangle of land north of the parallel was placed under Sudanese administration because it was more easily reached from Sudan. This was an "administrative," rather than a sovereign, boundary.
In 1958, then Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser sent Egyptian troops into the disputed region, but later withdrew them.
Egypt protested, however, when in January 1992, Sudan granted a Canadian company oil exploration rights in the waters off the Halaib Triangle. Negotiations began, but the Canadian company later pulled out of the deal pending settlement of the sovereignty issue – Albawaba.com
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