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Eritrean president visits Sudan amid border tensions

Head of Sudan's transitional govt Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) shakes hands with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki at Khartoum Airport Sept. 9, 2019   -  
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Eritrea's president arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for talks with Sudanese officials amid tensions over a longtime border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.

President Isaias Afwerki landed at Khartoum's international airport and was received by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling sovereign council.

The two leaders then began closed talks on cooperation and ways to develop ties between the two countries, according to a statement from the Sudanese sovereign council.

The two-day visit comes after Sudan in February accused a third party of siding with Ethiopia in its border dispute with Sudan.

It was likely referring to Eritrea, which has deployed troops to the Tigray region to fight alongside Ethiopian federal forces in the conflict there.

Following Sudan's accusation, Eritrea dispatched its foreign minister to Sudan who assured Khartoum that Eritrea was not part of the dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.

The decades-long disagreement centres on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders in the al-Fashqa area, which Ethiopian farmers have cultivated it for years.

The Tigray conflict in Ethiopia, which has resulted in an influx of refugees into Sudan, has exacerbated the dispute.

The dispute escalated in November after Sudan deployed troops to the territories it says are occupied by Ethiopian farmers and militias.

Sudan and Ethiopia have since held rounds of talks to try and settle the dispute, most recently in Khartoum in December, but have not made progress.

The Eritrean delegation included Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab, said Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel.

The visit came as Afwerki faces growing pressure from the international community, including the U.S., to withdrew Eritrean troops from Tigray.

Soldiers from Eritrea, long an enemy of Tigray's now-fugitive leaders, have also been blamed for some of the worst human rights abuses in the Tigray conflict.

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