Israel Delegation to Sudan Talks Agriculture, Health Care Cooperation

Although Khartoum leadership is still divided over normalization with Israel, the two countries seem to be taking secretive baby steps in that direction

Reuters
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A Sudan military parade at Khartoum airport, August 25, 2020.
A Sudan military parade at Khartoum airport, August 25, 2020.Credit: MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/ REU
Reuters

Israel sent a first delegation to Sudan to discuss potential economic and humanitarian cooperation on Monday after the countries announced a U.S.-brokered agreement on October 23 to take steps toward establishing relations, a source said.

The talks focussed on how Israel might shore up Sudan's agriculture, food security, water supplies and health care, the source, who declined to be identified by name or nationality, told Reuters.

The Israeli delegates also met separately with representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the source said. Israeli and Sudanese officials had no immediate comment. Nor did the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Aviation data tweeted by Haaretz's Avi Scharf showed that a chartered Turkish plane made a rare Tel Aviv-Khartoum return flight on Monday.

Interviewed by Israel's Army Radio last week, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said the initial delegation to Sudan would be followed within weeks by a larger "economic delegation" - raising the prospect of a possible signing of cooperation deals.

The source familiar with Monday's mission said those talks did not touch on the prospect of a more comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and Sudan.

Sudan followed the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in becoming the third Arab government to engage Israel with the encouragement of Washington, which sees such contacts as helping to isolate Iran and sidestep stalled Palestinian statehood talks.

But the military and civilian echelons of the transitional Sudanese government have been divided over how quickly and how far to go towards normalising relations with Israel.

The Israelis' Sudanese interlocutors on Monday included "a range of figures" from the Khartoum leadership, the source said.

A group of Israeli and U.S. envoys flew to Khartoum on October 21 to finalise the terms of the normalisation announcement made by the countries' leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump two days later. 

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