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Sudan, Ethiopia hold border talks

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Sudan and Ethiopia have started their talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to demarcate their border, as Addis Ababa said incidents in a disputed area jeopardised otherwise friendly ties between the neighbours.

Recent violence “did not resemble the cordial relation that exists between our two countries”, Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Demeke Mekonnen said on Tuesday.

“It is endangering the agreements we have reached to maintain the status quo,” he said, according to the opening remarks distributed by Ethiopia’s embassy in Khartoum.

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The two-day talks in the capital came a week after Ethiopian forces reportedly ambushed Sudanese troops along the border, leaving four dead and more than 20 wounded.

Sudan has since deployed troops to the al- Fashaqa border region, the site of sporadic clashes.

The most contested region there is a 250-square-kilometre (100-square-mile) area where Ethiopian farmers cultivate crops on fertile land claimed by Sudan.

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The area borders Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region, where fighting broke out early last month, causing tens of thousands of Ethiopians to flee and cross into Sudan.

But Demeke said since last month, Ethiopia observed “organised attacks by the Sudanese military forces using heavy machine guns” and armoured convoys along the border.

He said the forces had looted Ethiopian farmers’ agricultural products, vandalised their camps and hampered their harvesting. “A number of civilians have been murdered and wounded,” he said.

Demeke called for “reactivating the existing mechanisms and finding an amicable solution” while warning against “unnecessary escalation”.

Addis Ababa had previously downplayed last week’s reported ambush, saying it did not threaten the relationship between the two countries.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Addis Ababa told the AFP news agency Ethiopian security forces “repelled a group of (Sudanese) low-ranking officers and farmers, who had encroached on Ethiopian territory”.—Al Jazeera

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