The Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Sudan, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mahgoub, arrived in Cairo?
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Background: The Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Sudan, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mahgoub, arrived in Cairo this morning together with the Sudanese Ambassador, for urgent consultations with Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mahmoud Fawzy, on the dispute over Egypt's claim to a large area of Sudan territory.
The Sudan Cabinet had announced on Monday night that Egypt had laid claim to a large area of Sudan territory in the areas of Wadi Halfa and Kassala. The claim was made in a letter from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry dated Sunday. It said that Egyptian troops and plebiscite commissioners representing the union of Egypt and Syria had already been sent to the area.
Territory claimed is north of the 22nd parallel, a large strip along the Red Sea in Kassala Province, and a small district north of Wadi Halfa. Egypt offers in exchange a small piece of desert south of the parallel.
The claim was first announced in an Egyptian Foreign Ministry communication dated January 29th and received in Khartoum on February 1st. It intimated that Sudan elections in the districts claimed were rendered unnecessary.
On February 18th, The Sudanese Assistant Foreign Under-Secretary handed Mr. Khalifa, Egyptian Ambassador, a Note rejecting Egyptian claims to Sudanese territory. According to the note, the Sudan was determined to "defend the sovereignty and dignity of our country."
A settlement was still be sought on Wednesday February 19th, in long talks between President Nasser and the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mohamed Mahgoub. Some observers find grounds for optimism in the fact that Colonel Nasser interrupted his meeting with Mahgoub for two and half hours to take the Foreign Minister to his home for luncheon, over which the exchanged continued for another two hours.
There is an air of improvisation surrounding the Egyptian Government's response to this dispute. But the outcome is still very much in the balance.