Sudan has heightened claims that two border territories near the Red Sea are rightfully theirs and that they have had sovereign rights over them since it gained independence. Sudan has taken legal and political measures to reclaim the islands of Halayeb and Shalatin which Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said they will not let go.

“We will not let go of our sovereign rights on the Halayeb triangle,” Mr Ghandour told lawmakers.

Egyptian President Alfatah Al-Sisi has come under pressure after Egyptians protested against the handing over of two other Red Sea islands – Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Khartoum is now demanding copies of the agreement to “guage the impact of the agreement” on their maritime borders.

Egypt rejects call from Sudan for negotiations

The Halayeb triangle measure about 7,950 square miles. The dispute continues to be a source of relentless tension straining relations between the two Muslim nations. Cairo feels it may not be the right time to be engaged with Sudan over the disputed islands. The North African nation’s Government is faced with growing opposition resistance and the threats of Islamist groups like ISIS. In a show of deep interest, in 2013 at least $110 million was planned by Egypt to develop Halayeb and Shalatin. Most of it went to the construction of housing, road networks, and water pipelines.

The region is said to be rich in natural resources and serves as a strategic political and economic hub. Sudan and Egypt once came close to using the islands as a joint economic hub before former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi faced sharp criticism over the decision.

Top Videos of the Day

In 1899, the islands were a part of Egypt but in 1902 the British decided to hand them over to Sudan. Sudan became independent in 1956, it laid claim to the islands but since 1990 they remained under Egyptian control, which had annexed it.

President Al-Sisi’s government has rejected calls from the Al-Bashir’s administration to negotiate over Halayib and Shalateen. Egypt maintains it has sovereignty over the islands.