Sudan's Bashir backs Sisi election bid, agrees more cooperation

FILE PHOTO: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir talks with Qatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir welcomed his Egyptian counterpart’s bid for re-election during his first visit to Egypt since 2016 and pledged further cooperation after a year of rocky relations between the neighboring countries.

Ties between the African countries have appeared to fray in recent months, as Cairo grew restless over a Sudan-Turkey naval agreement and a dispute over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile river that runs through all three countries.

Sudan last year banned imports of all Egyptian agricultural goods, a move analysts saw as largely political and tied to a litany of Sudanese grievances, chief among them disputed land in Egypt’s south.

Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt in January without explanation, but allowed him to return earlier this month.

On Monday both leaders agreed to strengthen ties and work together to bolster trade, military and energy cooperation, though the trade spat was not mentioned.

“(We) discussed ways to achieve and promote our common interests, in light of our full respect for (each country’s) internal affairs and joint efforts to maintain the national security of both countries,” Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at a news conference following the meeting.

Sisi is standing for re-election next week in a vote he is almost certain to win.

“We have timed our visit to reaffirm our support for stability in Egypt and for President Sisi,” Bashir said.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Nadine Awadalla, Editing by Eric Knecht, William Maclean