Egypt condemns RT's poll on disputed border territory

CAIRO — Egypt condemned on Saturday an online poll on a Russian government-funded news website over whether a disputed border territory belongs to Egypt or Sudan.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry said in an online statement that Russia Today's online poll held a day earlier was "unacceptable conduct" and that it had contacted Russian officials over the issue, demanding an "urgent" explanation. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also canceled an interview scheduled for Saturday with the news outlet.

The poll is no longer on the news outlet's website.

This comes ahead of Russian and Egyptian defense ministers meeting in Moscow on Monday.

The longstanding border dispute has triggered tension between Egypt and Sudan over the years, with Khartoum renewing claims to the Egypt-held border territory, known as the Halayeb Triangle.

Sudan first submitted a complaint against Egypt over the territory to the U.N. Security Council in 1958, claiming sovereignty over the territory. It renews the complaint annually. However, Egypt maintains full sovereignty over the region and refuses to submit the dispute to international arbitration.

Egypt's State Information Service, which oversees foreign media, summoned Russia Today's representatives over the online poll, saying in a statement that it undermines Egypt's sovereignty. In a later statement, SIS urged news outlets to avoid similar "abuses."

Egyptian authorities have waged an unprecedented crackdown on political dissent and media since the ouster of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's predecessor, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, in 2013 following mass protests against his divisive rule.

Thousands have been jailed, including journalists. Protests have been banned, hundreds of websites blocked, and freedom of press has largely been curbed. Reporters Without Borders has ranked Egypt as 161 out of 180 countries on their 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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