President Eritrea’s visit to Khartoum comes amid strained relations between the government of Ethiopia, a close ally, and Sudan.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is in Khartoum to hold talks with Sudanese officials, on a two-day visit amid tensions between the governments of Ethiopia, a close ally of the Eritrean leader, and Sudan.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab, Isaiah was received on Tuesday at the Sudanese capital’s international airport by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council.
The two leaders then began closed talks on cooperation and ways to strengthen ties between their countries, according to a council statement.
The Eritrean Ministry of Information said in a separate statement that Isaiah and al-Burhan had “agreed to strengthen their efforts in implementing the Cooperation Agreement reached between the two countries in the political, economic, social, security and military “.
President Isaias Afwerki and his delegation received a warm welcome on their arrival at Khartoum International Airport by the President of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fatah al Burhan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs al-Sadiq al- Mahdi and other senior Sudanese officials and dignitaries. pic.twitter.com/fY8osvvYrO
– Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti) May 4, 2021
Isaiah also held talks with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, stressing the importance of regional integration in the Horn of Africa and “agreed to focus on some specific projects to strengthen Eritrea-Sudan bilateral ties in the regional framework “.
The visit comes after Sudan in February accused “a third party” of siding with Ethiopia in one ancient border dispute with Sudan over disputed farmland in the fertile Al-Fashaga region. He was probably referring to Eritrea, which has deployed troops in the Tigray region in Ethiopia to fight alongside Ethiopian federal forces in the conflict there.
Following Sudan’s indictment, Eritrea sent its foreign minister to Sudan to assure Khartoum that Eritrea was not part of the dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia. In late March, the United Nations reported that Eritrean forces were operating in the so-called al-Fashaga triangle.
Decades of disagreement over al-Fashaga intensified in November after Sudan deployed troops to territories it says are occupied by Ethiopian farmers and militias.
Since then, Sudan and Ethiopia have held rounds of talks to try to resolve the dispute, most recently in Khartoum in December, but have not moved forward.
Sudan has said its forces have recaptured most of its territory. But he called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points that it says are inside Sudan, under an agreement that delineated the borders between the two nations in the early 20th century.
Ethiopia, however, accused Sudan of taking advantage of the Tigray conflict to enter Ethiopian territory and loot property, killing civilians and displacing thousands of people. The Tigray fighting has sent more than 70,000 Ethiopian refugees to Sudan.
Isaiah’s visit also comes when he faces growing pressure from the international community withdraw Eritrean troops from Tigray.
Eritrean soldiers, enemies of Tigray’s now fugitive leaders, have also been blamed for some of the worst human rights abuses in the Tigray conflict, including massacres of civilians and systematic rape.