12 March 2014
Prime Minster discusses ways to strengthen relations with South Sudan
South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Benjamin said his country has exerted efforts “in every African forum” to lift Egypt’s suspension from activities within the African Union.
Benjamin met with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb on Tuesday, having participated in an Arab League ministerial level meeting in Cairo. Aside from Egypt’s status within the African Union, the pair discussed investment, development and education cooperation, according to a cabinet statement.
Benjamin told Mehleb of South Sudan’s actions to encourage Egypt’s reinstatement in the union while expressing appreciation for “the active role played by Egypt in the Arab League to closely understand the situation in South Sudan and work to restore stability there”.
Egypt’s African Union activities ware suspended just days after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. South Sudan President Salva Kiir remained in power following a conflict with his Vice President Riek Machar, but the fighting spread throughout the country. The two sides have engaged in peace talks in Ethiopia but were suspended until 20 March with little progress made.
Mehleb “assured” Benjamin that the events that led to Morsi’s ouster were “a popular revolution to restore Egypt’s identity and its important role in the region”. He also conveyed his greetings to President Kiir, adding that Egypt “supports the state of South Sudan and is keen to strengthen relations and build bridges of cooperation”. Mehleb said he would consider establishing a scholarship programme for South Sudanese Students to attend Egyptian universities, emphasising the “important role of education in increasing links between peoples”.
Benjamin said that South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, “is looking forward to the injection of more investments from Egypt and Arab [states] in South Sudan to assist the development of the state and the private sector to provide more job opportunities”.
Benjamin met with his counterpart Nabil Fahmy on Saturday ahead of the Arab League meeting, and discussed water resources, investment and development in Africa.