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Sudan bans Egyptian imports as tensions rise

Trade between Cairo and Khartoum amounts to about $850 million annually. [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 May, 2017

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Sudan banned Egyptian imports of agricultural and animal products on Tuesday in the latest blow to already fraught relations between the two countries.

Sudan banned Egyptian imports of agricultural and animal products on Tuesday in the latest blow to already fraught relations between the two countries.

Trade between Cairo and Khartoum amounts to about $850 million annually, with Egyptian exports to Sudan primarily consisting of fruit, vegetables, fish, canned food and textiles.

"Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh has issued an order banning Egyptian agricultural and animal products, and importing of seeds from Egypt," the official SUNA news agency reported.

"The order also bans Sudanese businessmen from using Egyptian territories for importing goods into Sudan."

In recent months, ties between Khartoum and Cairo have deteriorated after Sudanese President Omar Bashir accused Egyptian intelligence services of supporting rebels fighting his troops in Darfur.

Last week in a televised speech, Bashir said that Sudanese forces had repelled two attacks in the Darfur region and confiscated Egyptian-made armoured vehicles.

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rejected the accusations, denying that Cairo had been supplying Darfur rebels with military equipment. 

There has been a civil war between the Sudanese government and a number of rebel groups in Darfur that has continued since 2003, leaving more than 300,000 people dead and around 2.5 million others displaced internally, the UN reports.

Egyptian media, meanwhile, has accused Khartoum of offering refuge to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a "terrorist group" in Egypt following the military coup against former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The countries also have a longstanding dispute over Egypt's occupation of the Halayeb triangle near the Red Sea, which Sudan says been part of its territory since shortly after independence in 1956.

Sudan and Egypt have been engaged in high-level diplomatic initiatives to improve their relations, but their efforts have so far not yielded any positive results.

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