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Riyadh ‘supports’ Sudan’s claim over disputed land with Egypt

Saudi Arabia has backed Sudan in its fight to get back a disputed region of land near the Red Sea from Egypt, a Sudanese diplomatic source has told The New Arab.

Riyadh, which recently won a land dispute with Egypt, has reportedly “showed understanding” towards Sudan’s claim over the Halayeb triangle.

Khartoum has long said Egypt has been illegally occupying the mineral-rich border region.

“We have informed Saudi Arabia of our total resolve to stick by our historic right over the Halayeb triangle,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

“There is Saudi understanding towards our position, which is backed by evidence. We have been assured that our brothers in Riyadh will not allow any harm to be done to Sudan.”

He said that Saudi officials have recently mitigated the crisis between Cairo and Khartoum following a series of provocations from both sides.

“The Egyptian regime must understand that recent steps towards signing deals with Ethiopia, Turkey, and Qatar are not attempts to annoy the Egyptians but have been efforts made in the best interests of the Sudanese people,” he added.

Egypt occupied the 25,000-square-kilometre in 1995, during a low point in relations between the two countries.

On Monday, Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir said that he has remained patient with Egypt even though it has “illegally occupied” the Halayeb triangle.

In an interview with Qatari newspaper al-Sharq on Tuesday, Bashir said that Egypt had occupied the area while Khartoum had been fighting off a rebellion in the south of the country.

“We are totally against going to war with Egypt because we are in the same boat,” he said, adding that he was willing to go to international arbitration to resolve the land dispute.

Tensions have been high in recent months after Bashir accused Egypt of supporting Sudanese opposition figures fighting his troops.

However, the two countries have been engaged in diplomatic initiatives to improve their relations with both sides agreeing to that neither side would harbour or support opposition groups fighting their respective governments.

After months of tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a Cairo court ruled in April that a decision to block the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia was invalid.

The deal to hand over the islands, signed during an April 2016 visit by Saudi King Salman, had been held up after it provoked accusations in Egypt that Cairo had “sold” the strategic islands.

Sudan has recently been becoming closer to Saudi Arabia with a joint Saudi-Sudanese air force drill taking place last month.

In 2015, it said it would take part in a Saudi-led military intervention in nearby Yemen against Iran-backed rebels with ground troops – something Egypt has been extremely wary of doing.

Bashir has said that the Sudanese military has been playing a “key role” in improving Khartoum’s ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

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