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Egypt, Sudan vow not to aid respective opposition groups

© AFP | Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour (R) speaks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shokry following a joint press conference in Khartoum on April 20, 2017

KHARTOUM (AFP) - 

Egypt and Sudan said on Thursday they will not harbour or support opposition groups fighting their respective governments, as top diplomats of the two countries vowed to boost bilateral ties.

Relations between neighbours Cairo and Khartoum have been tense, with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accusing Egyptian intelligence services of supporting Sudanese opposition figures fighting his troops.

The Egyptian media has also accused Khartoum of offering refuge to members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which was declared a "terrorist group" by Cairo following the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

"We will not allow any Egyptian opposition group to carry out negative activities from Sudanese territory," Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters after a meeting with visiting Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

Ghandour said a recent decision by Khartoum to make Egyptian men aged from 19 to 50 obtain visas prior to entering Sudan was a result of this policy.

Since 2004 Egyptians have enjoyed visa-free access to Sudan, but earlier this month Sudanese authorities made it mandatory for adult Egyptian men to obtain visas before entering the country.

"It is important... to prevent opposition groups from our countries, especially armed groups, from carrying out negative activities against each other's countries," Ghandour said.

Shoukry too vowed that Cairo will work "hand in hand" to boost relations between the two countries.

"The rise in regional and international terrorist activities has increased the importance of cooperation with our Sudanese brothers to face these challenges," Shoukry said in a brief statement alongside Ghandour in Khartoum.

Sudanese officials have regularly claimed to be stepping up efforts to fight extremism in the region, although Washington has listed Sudan as an alleged state sponsor of terrorism since 1993, a charge Khartoum steadfastly denies.

A point of dispute between Cairo and Khartoum has also been Egypt's occupation of a border region claimed by Sudan.

Egypt occupied the sparsely populated 25,000-square-kilometre (10,000-square-mile) Halayeb triangle in 1995, during a low point in relations between the two countries.

Sudan has regularly protested Egypt's administration of Halayeb, which lies near the Red Sea in a mineral-rich border region.

Khartoum says that Halayeb has been part of its sovereign territory since shortly after independence in 1956.

© 2017 AFP