President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr met with the Eritrean foreign minister Osman Saleh and the Eritrean presidential adviser for political affairs, Yamani Jabr, in Cairo on Monday to boost bilateral relations between the countries and discuss a number of regional and international issues.
According to foreign ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy, the two dignitaries addressed the growing problem of trafficking in African refugees through Egyptian territories. For the last two years, refugees and asylum-seekers, most of them Eritrean, have been kidnapped from refugee camps in Sudan and transported to the Sinai desert where they are held for ransom by Bedouin gangs, according to a recent Amnesty International report.
In the report, Amnesty International called on all the countries along the trafficking route to crack down on kidnappings and abuses and to increase their engagement with international agencies to protect the safety of refugees. In Monday’s meeting, Amr stressed the need to increase awareness of this issue and the harm it causes to African refugees.
They also agreed to establish a plan headed by both foreign ministers to increase political communication between the two countries, to strengthen Egypt’s relationship with Eritrea and the rest of the African continent, and to increase Egypt’s involvement in a variety of development projects in the Nile Basin countries, Roshdy said.
Amr also confirmed Egypt’s desire to promote trade with Eritrea, especially once the planned land bridge between Sudan and Egypt has been established.
Morsi also discussed the land bridge with a Sudanese delegation led by the head of the Council of States, Adam Hamid Musa. In their meeting on Monday, Morsi emphasised that it is the responsibility of both governments to push ahead with the three land routes, one in the east, one in the west and one along the coast, to facilitate the movement of peoples and goods between the two countries.
The president expressed a desire for continued communication between the Sudanese Council of States and the Egyptian Shura Council as both states work toward convergence at legislative and civil levels.
Chairman of the Shura Council, Ahmed Fahmy announced that the parliamentary committees of both states have established an agreement to promote cooperation between their legislative branches. This agreement will expand to include the House of Representatives once it has been elected, Morsi said.
The cooperation and integration initiatives between Egypt and Sudan mark the beginning of wider regional collaboration, Morsi said.