Sudan is looking forward to making a peace agreement with Israel, said the spokesperson of the country's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, confirming speculations that more Arab states would follow the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Sudan's statement, and said it reflects a brave decision by the chief of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
"Israel, Sudan and the entire region would benefit from a peace agreement and could build a better future for all the region's peoples. We will do everything to make this vision a reality," Netanyahu said. He had met Burhan in Uganda in February and they agreed to normalize ties. Experts estimate that Sudan is interested in normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for removal of U.S. sanctions.
Sudan's foreign minister walked back the statement by the senior official smoehow, according to reports in Arabic-language media outlets. The minister said Sadiq was not authorized to remark on Sudan's relationship with Israel, and that the ministry had not discussed normalization of relations at all.
The Sudanese ministry's spokesperson Haidar Badawi Sadiq had told Sky News Arabia on Tuesday that he cannot deny that there is contact between Israeli and Sudanese officials. He also said there is no reason for continuing hostility between the two countries, adding that an agreement would be based on mutuality and would safeguard the interests of Sudan without compromising its principles.
Commenting on the UAE's agreement with Israel, he said the Gulf state was brave in normalizing ties with Israel, and was paving the way for other Arab states. At a White House press briefing last week, U.S. officials said that Oman and Bahrain would be the next countries to normalize relations with Israel.
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Israel views Sudan as having strategic importance because Iranian arms destined for Gaza are smuggled through it, via Egypt and Sinai. In addition, arms are sent to Polisario rebels fighting against Moroccan rule in Western Sahara.
Burhan is the de-facto ruler of Sudan after Omar al-Bashir was ousted by popular protests last year.
In past years, it has been reported that Israel seeks to normalize ties with a number of African Muslim states, including Sudan, Mali and Niger.
Israel's Foreign Ministry also welcomed the statement, and said it "views positively any steps toward a process of normalization and peace deals with the region's states."