Israeli, U.S. Officials Visited Sudan Ahead of Expected Normalization Deal

Officials fly to Khartoum and return a few hours later ■ Washington says it has begun process of removing Sudan from list of states sponsoring terrorism, working to get Sudan to recognize Israel

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, in Khartoum, Sudan, August 25, 2020.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, in Khartoum, Sudan, August 25, 2020.Credit: Sudanese Cabinet via AP, File
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israeli representatives visited Sudan on Wednesday ahead of Khartoum's declaration of normalization of ties with Israel.

On board the private flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum were interim deputy director-general at the Prime Minister's Office, Ronen Peretz, and the National Security Council's envoy to the Arab world. They were accompanied by the U.S. State Department's senior director for Gulf affairs and North Africa, Miguel Correa, and Aryeh Lightstone, an adviser to U.S. Ambassor to Israel David Friedman. They returned a few hours later. 

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Also Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and is also working "diligently" to get Khartoum to recognize Israel.

Sudan’s fragile interim government is sharply divided over normalizing relations with Israel, as it finds itself under intense pressure from the Trump administration to become the third Arab country to do so in short order – after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly met with the chief of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in Uganda. Immediately after the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement: "It has been agreed to start a cooperation that will lead to normalizing the ties between the countries."

The UAE and Bahrain signed agreements last month to establish formal ties with Israel, becoming the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to break what had been a long-standing taboo in the region. Citizens of the UAE will be able to stay in Israel for up to 90 days on a single visit under a visa exemption agreement that the two countries reached this week, the UAE state news agency WAM said on Thursday.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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