World

Sudan ratifies ban on Egyptian imports, fueling tension

The Sudanese Cabinet ratified on Tuesday a ban on the import of Egyptian animal and agricultural products, a development that's certain to deepen months of tension between the two neighbors over a long-running border dispute.

Sudan's official news agency, SUNA, said the Cabinet also required businessmen to import goods directly from the country of origin, not though Egypt — its neighbor to the north. Sudan first banned Egyptian agricultural imports in September, citing health concerns. It later expanded the ban.

Relations between Egypt and Sudan have recently been fraught with tension, with Khartoum renewing its claim to an Egyptian-held border territory. The two countries' dispute over the so-called Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea dates back to British colonial times.

Sudan first submitted a complaint against Egypt over the territory to the U.N. Security Council in 1958, claiming sovereignty over the triangle. It renews the complaint annually. However, Egypt maintains full sovereignty over the region and refuses to submit the dispute to international arbitration.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused Egypt earlier this month of arming rebels fighting against his government in the western Darfur region. Egypt has angrily denied the charge.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has called off a visit to Cairo scheduled for this week, citing "domestic" issues, according to Egyptian news reports.

Sudan's long-serving leader, who rose to power in a 1989 military coup that overthrew an elected but ineffective government, is on the International Criminal Court's wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. ICC prosecutors issued two warrants for al-Bashir's arrest, in March 2009 and in July 2010.