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Sisi concludes two-day visit to Sudan amid foreign media blackout

Egyptian president's visit to Khartoum marks his first foreign trip since assuming his second term in office
al-Bashir (R) greetingAbdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) upon his arrival to Khartoum (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi left Khartoum on Friday after a two-day visit to Egypt's southern neighbour amid a Sudanese ban on foreign media coverage of the trip.

In meetings with Sudanese president and prime minister on Friday, Sisi stressed that the national security of Sudan was "part of Egypt's own national security".

The meetings discussed plans to establish electricity and railways links between the two countries, the state-owned Egyptian daily al-Ahram reported.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir promised to erase all barriers to the movement of people and trade between the two countries.

The visit is Sisi's first foreign trip after starting his second presidential term last March and his sixth since he first came to power in 2014.

"My visit comes as part of the comprehensive coordination between the two countries to support their common strategic interests in all fields, from politics to the economy, to security, to water policies, to culture," Sisi said at a conference on Thursday.

Although the two sides have failed to resolve key disputes, the meeting signals an improvement in relations after a brief diplomatic crisis.

This crisis came to the fore in January when Khartoum recalled its ambassador in Cairo over border conflicts and Egypt threatened to file a complaint with the UN Security Council against Sudan.

Diplomatic relations were restored in March but issues that triggered the crisis are yet to be resolved.

Egypt has been alarmed by Sudan siding with Ethiopia in the conflict over Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears could reduce its share of the Nile River.

Sudan's hosting of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and a border conflict over the disputed Halayeb and Shalateen triangle, held by Cairo and claimed by Khartoum, are two other unresolved issues.

A visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Sudan in December 2017 triggered accusations in Egyptian media of Sudan's rapprochement with Qatar and Turkey.

But after a coordinated campaign against Sudan, Egyptian newspapers and TV channels received instructions from state authorities to stop criticising Bashir and the Sudanese people to avoid further escalation of tensions.

Sudanese authorities banned international media from covering the visit, according to Anadolu News Agency.

"Correspondents working for international media got a message from the Sudanese Information Ministry ordering them not to cover the visit, explaining that the move is parallel to Egyptian authorities' treatment during Bashir's visit this March," the Turkish news agency said.