May 12, 2018 / 12:00 PM / 10 days ago

Russia Today removes poll on disputed territory after Egypt protest

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Russian broadcaster has removed an opinion poll about ownership of Red sea border triangle disputed between Egypt and Sudan after Cairo protested to Moscow.

The protest came ahead of a meeting in Moscow between the foreign and defence ministers of Russia and Egypt on Monday.

The Halayeb triangle, which is controlled by Egypt, has been claimed by Sudan since 1958. Cairo says it is Egyptian territory and it has long been a source of contention between the two neighbours.

Relations between Egypt and Sudan have been further strained in recent months by Khartoum’s support for Ethiopia over a hydroelectric dam Addis Ababa is building which Egypt fears will restrict its water access.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday it had demanded an explanation from Moscow about the opinion poll, which was aired by state-controlled broadcaster Russia Today on its Arabic news channel on Friday.

“The Foreign Ministry contacted the Russian side on the morning of Saturday May 12th to express its strong condemnation of the opinion poll conducted by the Russian government-affiliated channel, and demanded an urgent explanation for this unacceptable conduct,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in the statement.

The survey had been removed from Russia Today’s website by late Saturday afternoon.

The spokesman said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had cancelled an interview he had planned with Russia Today ahead of Monday’s foreign and defence ministers meeting.

The Russia Today survey also included questions relating to Israeli air strikes on Syria and the Iran nuclear deal.

Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) said Russia Today removed the survey after calls to Moscow by its officials.

“The SIS explained to the Russian side the seriousness of such irresponsible and unprofessional actions which actually aim to divide the Egyptian and Russian people and hurt the feelings of the Egyptian people,” SIS said in a statement.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Arwa Gaballa; editing by Sami Aboudi and Ros Russell

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