CAIRO – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Sudan on Tuesday, the highest US official to visit the African country since the ousting of its autocratic leader, Omar al-Bashir, last year.
Pompeo is the first US Secretary of State to visit the African country since 2005, when he visited Condoleezza Rice.
The visit aimed to show US support for the country’s fragile transition to democracy.
Officials from Pompeo and Sudan discussed normalizing relations between Sudan and Israel and removing the country from the list of U.S. terrorist sponsoring states, officials from both countries said. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, however, urged the Trump administration to separate normalization from delisting of Sudan, a government spokesperson said.
Pompeo arrived from Israel and while still flying he tweeted:
“Glad to announce that we are on Israel’s FIRST official NONSTOP flight to Sudan!”
His flight was the first direct trip from Tel Aviv to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Pompeo was in Israel on Monday for the first stop of his multi-country tour of the region. The trip follows the August 13 agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic relations.
Pompeo exited the plane after landing at Khartoum International Airport wearing a face mask as a protective measure against the coronavirus. His motorcade then left the airport, heading for meetings with Sudanese General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, and Hamdok.
Hamdok later described his meeting with Pompeo as “œbig” and tweeted in English that they had had a “direct and transparent conversation” about Sudan’s removal from the US terrorist list, bilateral relations and government support of the state. United with the civilian-led transitional government in Sudan. . The Dodgers come halfway with
“I continue to hope for positive and tangible steps to support the glorious Sudanese revolution,” he tweeted.
The prime minister urged the Trump administration not to tie the removal of Sudan’s name from its list of terrorist sponsoring states to normalizing times with Israel, Information Minister Fasial Saleh said.
“The transitional government does not have the mandate … to decide on normalization with Israel.
The issue will be decided after the completion of the transitional authority,” Saleh said. He was referring to the legislative body which has not yet been formed. .
The sovereign council said Pompeo also met with Burhan but gave no details.
A Sudanese military official said their talks focused on “the next step towards normalization and the incentives Sudan will get.” He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief reporters.
“It’s great to be in Khartoum for meetings with the civilian-led transitional government. The ongoing democratic transition is a unique opportunity for the Sudanese people. I look forward to discussing how to deepen them. US-Sudanese relations. ” Pompeo tweeted.
The State Department said ahead of the visit that Pompeo would discuss .
continued US support for the civilian-led transitional government and expressed support for the deepening of relations between Sudan and Israel.”
In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Burhan on a trip to Uganda where they pledged to continue normalization. The meeting was held in secret and was not announced until after it had taken place. It also paved the way for another first: two weeks after the meeting in Uganda, an Israeli plane made a historic first flight over Sudanese territory.
At the time of the Burhan-Netanyahu meeting, the Sudanese military said the talks with Israel were an effort to help end Sudan’s status as an international pariah state.
Following a meeting with Hamdok on Monday, a coalition representing protesters who helped overthrow al-Bashir last year said in a statement that the transitional government “does not have a mandate” to decide to normalize relations with. Israel.
The coalition, known as the Forces for the Declaration on Freedom and Change, “also underscored the right of the Palestinian people to their land and the right to a free and dignified life,” the statement said.
Sudan hosted the historic Arab conference after the 1967 Middle East War in which eight Arab countries endorsed the “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.