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Egypt, Sudan continue to disagree on visa-free travel deal

There are a number of obstacles facing the implementation of the Four Freedoms agreement between Egypt and Sudan, the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, revealed yesterday.

Speaking in a conference held in Cairo with his Tanzanian counterpart, Augustine Mahiga, Shoukry said that the consultations on the Four Freedoms agreement have not reached the full implementation phase yet, adding "we are facing some obstacles".

"In any agreement with Sudan, we always ensure to take into account the aspirations of the peoples of the two countries," he noted. "This requires exerting efforts and adopting new policies that support this cause.

"We aspire to strengthen ties with Sudan," the Egyptian minister stressed.

Read: Sudan and Egypt are one

In 2004, Egypt and Sudan signed the so-called the Four Freedoms Convention, allowing the free movement of citizens between both countries, as well as working and owning property with no special permit.

Egypt recently requested an amendment be made to some of the agreement's clauses, including restricting the entry of Sudanese citizens to Egypt.

Sudanese officials have accused Cairo of "delaying the agreement's activation".

Egypt and Sudan have experienced strained relations over several controversial issues; most notably the Halayeb and Shalateen region which Sudan claims is its sovereign territory.

On his part, Mahiga called on Egypt and Ethiopia to "start a dialogue", citing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue.

Read: Sudan is preparing its strategy for a conflict with its neighbours

"Tanzania understands that the River Nile is the lifeblood of Egypt," Mahiga said.

Cairo fears the 6,000-megawatt dam will reduce the flow of Nile water on which it depends for drinking water and irrigation. Egyptian officials say safeguarding the country's quota of Nile water is a matter of national security.

Ethiopia has repeatedly said the Grand Renaissance Dam, which it claims will help make it Africa's largest power exporter, will have no major effect on Egypt.

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