President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan on Monday welcomed his Egyptian counterpart’s bid for re-election 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 in 2017 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.
Mr. Al-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 Al-Sisi,” Mr. Al-Bashir said.
The elections are scheduled to hold in Egpyt between March 26 and March 28.
Egyptians abroad began voting on Friday, ten days before polls open at home in a presidential election that Mr. Al-Sisi is effectively guaranteed to win, but in which turnout could provide an indication of his popularity.
The former army chief’s only challenger, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, leads a party that had initially backed the Egyptian president’s bid for re-election.
Other opponents halted their campaigns citing intimidation by the authorities. One top challenger was jailed.
Mr. Al-Sisi in recent days has echoed calls he made in 2014, just before he was first voted into office, urging Egyptians to turn up to polling stations worldwide.
A year after toppling Egypt’s first competitively elected leader, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his rule, Sisi won nearly 97 per cent of the vote in 2014.
Fewer than half of eligible Egyptians voted in that election even though it was extended to three days.
State television showed hundreds of voters crowding outside the Egyptian embassies in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Other Egyptians abroad said they would have nothing to do with the vote.