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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Sudan and Eritrea defence chiefs meet
SPLA fighters
Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting SPLA rebels
Sudanese Defence Minister, General Bekri Hassen Saleh and his Eritrean counterpart, Sebhat Efrem have held talks in Eritrean capital, Asmara, in a bid to improve their bilateral relations.

The Sudanese minister General Saleh also delivered a message to President Isaias Afwerki from his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir.


These are reqular exchanges

Presidential spokesman, Yemane Gebremeskel

The talks followed recent accusations by the governor of Sudan's Kassala region, Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid, that the Eritrean government was involved in a military plot to attack Sudan.

Eritrea dismissed the charges as groundless.

Relations

Eritrean presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel said the talks on Thursday had nothing to do with the accusations made on Tuesday by Mr Mahmud.

Eritrean soldiers
Eritrea still smarting from war with Ethiopia
"These are regular exchanges", he said.

Mr Yemane did not give details of the topics discussed or the message presented to President Isaias.

A statement issued on Friday by the Eritrean Foreign ministry described the visit by the Sudanese defence minister as having been extremely positive.

The statement said a joint Sudanese-Eritrean ministerial committee would meet in the future to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.

Memorandum

Sudan and Eritrea broke relations in 1994 amid accusations that each supported the other's rebel movements.

The foreign ministers of Sudan and Eritrea signed a memorandum of understanding in November 1998, pledging to settle their dispute peacefully and to hold periodic talks.

President Omar el Bashir
Bashir made impromptu visit to Asmara
Following the restoration of diplomatic ties, Sudan early this year reopened its border with Eritrea after a six-year break.

Traffic was allowed leave the eastern Sudanese town of Kassala and cross safely into Eritrea.

The improved relations were marked with Eritrea hoisting its national flag over its embassy building in Khartoum and President Bashir making an unexpected walkabout in Eritrea's capital, Asmara.

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See also:

17 Jan 00 | Africa
Sudan's decades of war
04 Jan 00 | Africa
Sudan and Eritrea restore links
26 Nov 99 | Africa
Sudan peace deal struck
23 Dec 99 | Africa
Egypt and Sudan repair relations
17 Dec 99 | Africa
Sudan's new prospects for peace
08 Dec 99 | Africa
Sudan and Uganda to tackle rebels
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