Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat has asserted that his country agreed with Sudan on a roadmap for repairing relations between the two neighboring countries and said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that his country was completely ready to react favorably with the new action plan with Sudan so as to open a new page in relations and help solve the Darfur issue. He stressed that visits would be exchanged in the coming weeks and underlined Chad’s commitment to what was agreed upon and would be agreed upon later for repairing relations after controlling the flow of oppositionists from both sides across the borders.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Can Sudanese-Chadian relations be drafted to serve security and stability in Darfur and then comply with the African Union’s principles for resolving conflicts and disputes?
[Mahamat] We are working with the brothers in Sudan and discussed on 10 and 11 October with (Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s adviser) Dr. Ghazi Salahaldin in Chad the means of opening a new page in relations that serves both countries’ interests. We talked frankly and in a brotherly spirit. A plan was proposed to us and we accepted it. It requires both countries to take measures to remove the oppositionists and rebels from both sides. I will then visit Khartoum with a large high-level delegation to complete the various aspects of cooperation.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Was a date set for your visit to Sudan?
[Mahamat] We have not set a date yet for this visit and are waiting first for Khartoum to remove the rebels from the borders and assemble them in camps after which a Sudanese delegation will visit Chad to discuss and ascertain the presence of camps for the Darfur rebels. We will go to Sudan one week after this to talk about securing the borders and then restoring relations. Consulates might be opened later in the border towns so that we can both act for the return of normal and distinguished relations with the Sudanese people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Sudan and Chad signed many agreements at the summit level in several capitals but none of them lasted because of the mutual violence at the borders. Will this map last and will we see relations that will help solve the Darfur issue?
[Mahamat] The agreements exist and we signed them and are trying to work through them. There is moreover our definite desire to improve relations. We have six agreements and we do not need to sign new ones. Let us act and implement what we had agreed upon.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are all the agreements similar and suitable for the stage?
[Mahamat] All the agreements fall within one framework, namely, to support security and stability between the two countries, Sudan and Chad, like the Dakar agreement, the Riyadh one, and the Tripoli agreement. Our hope is to implement what we had agreed upon.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Efforts are always exerted at the African summits to bring the Sudanese and Chadian presidents together but it is still the same stand of both sides not wishing to meet. What is the reason?
[Mahamat] This is what happened. We held several bilateral summits but relations did not improve. We are therefore thinking of solving the problems at a technical or lower level until we reach the summit. I mean here the gradual solution and in the end we will sew the agreement with silk, as we say. It is not holding summits that is important but the agreement and good intentions between us.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you feel optimistic about this after all this mountainous legacy of disagreements?
[Mahamat] Yes, because we know and are confident that the relationship with Sudan is old and eternal and we cannot be separated and what unites us is much more than what spoils our relations. It is our duty as officials in Chad and Sudan to improve our relations because they are built on history, blood, and common destiny.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will Chad participate in the Darfur factions’ conference?
[Mahamat] We heard the factions’ conference would be held but we have not been invited yet.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What role can Chad play to help the solution in Darfur?
[Mahamat] We are neighbors and brothers and know the area and problem. A dispute between Chad and Sudan happened as a result of the dispute in Darfur. We are hoping for relations with Sudan to improve. We can participate with others to solve the Darfur problem. We are ready.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You took part in the fourth China-Africa ministerial cooperation forum. Will your conclusions actually help back Africa and your country Chad?
[Mahamat] We implemented some projects with China and the latter is at present building an oil refinery in Chad costing around $150 million. We agreed to implement several infrastructure and agricultural projects. Hence our relations with China are very unique. What China proposed at this conference provides us with the opportunity to develop our relations and we believe everyone gains from it.