An Egyptian envoy announced that visa restrictions on Sudanese nationals are to be scrapped shortly in a further sign that relations are improving after years of strain, the Sudanese press said Monday.
Visa requirements had been imposed in the early 1990s because of fears that Islamic fundamentalists were entering Egypt from Sudan, said Assistant Foreign Minister Mustafa al-Feqi quoted by the official Al-Anbaa daily.
The reports did not mention when the restrictions would be lifted.
Feqi, speaking at a meeting at the foreign ministry on Sudanese-Egyptian relations, regretted the "ups and downs" that had clouded ties and called for "a minimum and unchanging level of understanding" between them that would not be affected by passing events.
Ties between the two countries were strained in 1995 when Egypt blamed the Islamist government in Khartoum for an assassination attempt against President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, and withdrew its ambassador.
However, the two sides announced the restoration of full diplomatic ties in December last year shortly after Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir started moves to sideline veteran Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi from positions of influence.
Egypt returned an ambassador to Khartoum in March.
Describing as "special" the Sudanese-Egyptian relations, Feqi said the two sides would come up with "modern" solutions to all problems and would reach "a new vision" of bilateral ties.
He said Egypt would not interfere in Sudan's domestic affairs "unless it is invited by the legitimate government for reconciliation" between feuding Sudanese parties.
His remarks were published the day a joint committee was scheduled to wind up its discussion of ways to boost economic and commercial links between the two countries. He headed the Egyptian delegation to the talks.
A top Sudanese official at the two-day talks said the two countries wanted to renew trade agreements a well as take steps to ease restrictions on the movement of their nationals.
Feqi's two-pronged visit to Khartoum also covers Egypt's joint initiative with Libya to help broker national reconciliation in Sudan, which has been ravaged by a civil war in the south for the last 17 years, and where much of the political opposition has gone into exile since Beshir's 1989 coup.
He expressed optimism about the outcome of the mediation.
"We always look forward to a united Sudan with its Arab, African and Islamic characteristics," Feqi told reporters.
Together with his Libyan counterpart, foreign ministry official Jumaa al-Fezzani, he briefed Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail in a meeting late Sunday about proposals put forward by the the Cairo-based umbrella opposition group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), for a conference with Khartoum government.
Feqi described as "extremely positive" the Sudanese government's reactions to the NDA's ideas, Al-Rai al-Aam daily said Monday.
"I am confident that the Sudanese parties will reach a settlement to their problems in a few days if they sit down together for the comprehensive national dialogue conference" which is proposed by the joint Egyptian-Libyan mediation initiative, he said.
However, he stopped short of elaborating on the government's replies to the NDA proposals -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)