President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi started a two-day visit to Sudan on Thursday, his first visit to Khartoum since his recent election for a second term.
Sisi is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aaty, Agriculture Minister Ezz Eddin Abustait, head of the General Intelligence Abbas Helmy, chief of presidential staff Mostafa Sherif, presidency spokesperson Bassam Rady and other officials.
The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, received Sisi on Thursday afternoon, at Khartoum International Airport.
Following the official reception ceremony, the two presidents held a session of talks at the Presidential Office at Khartoum Airport and then left for the Sudanese Republican Palace where a joint summit is scheduled to discuss issues related to boosting bilateral relations between Egypt and Sudan, as well as to discuss many African, Arab, regional and international issues of common concern.
Sisi expressed happiness on Twitter about his current visit to Sudan describing it as a brotherly country.
“The links between Egypt and Sudan are as immortal as the Nile, the lifeline and brotherhood line between the two countries,” Sisi’s Twitter official account read.
The two presidents recently agreed to form a joint Egyptian-Sudanese ministerial committee to overcome any challenges facing relations between the two countries, as part of intensive consultation that aims to achieve a qualitative leap in relations as soon as possible.
They also agreed to maintain the periodicity of holding joint committees on a regular basis, especially for committees that have to do with electricity linkage between the two countries, transportation, infrastructure projects, and the exchange of executive and advisory expertise in different fields.
Relations between Egypt and Sudan are expected to witness a momentum, especially with the start of the electricity linkage project between the two countries, the cooperation in the management and security of airports, and talks to discuss solutions for challenges faced by the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation, which links the Wadi Halfa region in Sudan with Egypt’s Aswan.
Talks between the two presidents focused on means to maximize economic cooperation and enhance various aspects of joint cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, transport, agriculture and animal production, Rady said.
The two presidents set up a steering committee headed by the foreign ministers of the two countries to develop specific projects with timetables to be adhered to
and to put into practice what has been agreed upon, Rady mentioned.
The volume of trade exchange between Egypt and Sudan is currently US$ 1 billion.
The joint Committee on Industry and Trade will convene in the next few months to discuss the increase of trade and investment projects and facilitating the work of businessmen in both countries.
The volume of direct and cumulative Egyptian investments in Sudan is $2.7 billion, distributed on the fields of industry, contracting, infrastructure, telecommunications, banks, pharmaceutical industry, and others.
Egypt also established strategic projects for land reclamation in Sudan, including 100,000 feddans in Blue Nile State and an Egyptian meat production project on an area of 40,000 acres at the White Nile State.
Egypt and Sudan have a joint shipping company between the ports of Aswan and Halfa to transport goods and individuals.
The most important exports of Sudan to Egypt live stock worth $350 million annually, in addition to camels at $100 million, and gum arabic.
Sisi’s visit to Khartoum will be the fifth since he came to office in 2014, and the first since he was re-elected for a second term of office in March 2018. The president’s visit to Sudan was in October 2016, during which he delivered a speech at the final session of the Sudanese National Dialogue.
The summit is the third meeting between the two presidents; the first took place between them took place in January in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Summit, while the second meeting was held in Egypt on March.
The Khartoum summit is set to discuss methods to enhance shared interests, through various joint mechanisms and joint committees between Egypt and Sudan.
These include the Special Committee for Trade Promotion, the Higher Joint Technical Authority for the Nile Water, the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation, the Consular Committee, the Military Committee, the Border Crossings’ Committee, and the mechanism of consultation between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm