Sudan and Egypt have agreed on the groundwork for a wide-ranging cooperation pact to be finalized at a ministerial committee meeting in Cairo next June.
A joint Sudanese-Egyptian technical committee ended two days of meetings in the Sudanese capital Tuesday saying agreement had been reached on economic, trade, industrial, agricultural, cultural and consular cooperation.
Head of the Egyptian side, assistant foreign minister Mustafa al-Feqi, said the committee had discussed issues of common concern, with emphasis on economic cooperation and the need to foster private sector contacts and cooperation between Egypt and Sudan.
He said it had recommended a joint businessmen's council be set up and arrangements made for easier movement of capital and people.
The two sides tackled other issues, he said, including security, which was being dealt with, "in a promising manner", by the countries' security authorities.
Feqi reiterated that Egypt would drop the requirement of an entry visa for Sudanese traveling to Egypt.
He said the visa had been needed in the past for "security reasons", referring to Islamic fundamentalists allegedly entering Egypt from Sudan and other neighboring countries.
"Now that those reasons have disappeared, there is no need for a visa requirement and arrangements will be taken for removing this requirement in two phases," Feqi said
He said businessmen and officials would be exempted in the first phase and other Sudanese individuals in the second, saying it was "improper that an Egyptian should obtain a visa to enter Sudan and vice versa."
Feqi also headed the Egyptian delegation to a joint committee with Libya seeking to broker mediation between the Sudanese government and the umbrella opposition group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), that includes northern and southern opposition groups.
He said that committee, which is co-led by Libyan diplomat Jumaa al-Fezzani, met for several hours with Sudan's foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and passed on proposals by the Cairo-based NDA on a proposed national dialogue conference with the Khartoum government.
"We are launching this mediating initiative on consent by the legitimate government and the northern and southern opposition," said the Egyptian official.
He said Ismail had explained his viewpoint on each proposal "in a manner that I wished the opposition leaders were here to listen to," but did not elaborate on Ismail's views.
Ismail had said earlier he would pass those NDA proposals to a government committee led by President Omar Beshir dealing with peace and reconciliation issues.
Feqi was optimistic about progress, saying: "I believe that if they sit down together at the negotiating table, the two sides will certainly reach agreement."
He said the role his country and Libya were playing was to persuade the two Sudanese sides to sit down together to discuss the problems in restoring democracy and halting an ongoing civil war – KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)