Sudan leaders visit border area amid tensions with Ethiopia

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese leaders on Monday visited a disputed area along the country’s eastern border with Ethiopia, amid growing tensions between the two East African nations that have seen Khartoum ordering its envoy to Addis Ababa home for consultations.

Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok inaugurated developments projects in the fertile al-Fashaqa area which Sudanese troops reclaimed in recent months from Ethiopian forces and militias, the premier’s office said.

Speaking in the eastern village of Wad Kouli, Hamdok said Sudan has sought “good ties” with Ethiopia but that it’s also able to protect and defend its territories.

The decades-long border dispute centers on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders, according an agreement that demarcated the borders between the two nations in the early 1900s. The two nations have held rounds of talks, most recently in Khartoum in December, to settle the dispute, but haven’t made progress.

The dispute has escalated in recent months after Sudan deployed troops to al-Fashaqa, driving out Ethiopian farmers and militias in the area. At least 84 Sudanese troops were killed in clashes with Ethiopia forces and militias since November, according to Burhan.

Sudan has said it reclaimed most of its territory and called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points it says are inside Sudan. At least 84 Sudanese troops were killed in clashes with Ethiopia forces and militias.

Monday’s visit was the latest sign of Sudan’s defiance against Ethiopia’s repeated calls for Sudanese troops to return to their positions before the war in Ethiopia’s region of Tigray.

Ethiopian officials accuse Sudan of taking advantage of the conflict which erupted in November after a falling out between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray ruling party that had dominated Ethiopia’s government for nearly three decades.

The growing war has threatened to destabilize the entire Horn of Africa.

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