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Sudan refuses to link the removal from the US terrorism list to Israel in the Middle East

Sources say U.S. officials said they wanted Khartoum to open ties with Israel following the moves of the UAE and Bahrain.

Sudan does not want to link its removal from a US “terrorism list”, which hinders access to foreign finance for the country’s economy, with the normalization of relations with Israel, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Saturday.

Sources said this week that US officials, in talks with a Sudanese delegation, said Khartoum should follow the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain and establish open relations with Israel.

Sudan’s designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism” goes back to its overthrown ruler Omar al-Bashir and makes it difficult for its new transitional government to gain access to urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing.

During a visit to Khartoum last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the head of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to normalize relations with Israel [File: Sudan’s Foreign Media Council/AFP]

Hamdok said Sudan told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit last month that it was necessary to separate the removal from the US list from normalizing relations with Israel.

“This theme [ties to Israel] needs a deep discussion about society, ”he said at a conference in Khartoum to discuss economic reforms.

Rising inflation in Sudan and the falling currency have been the biggest challenges for Hamdok’s interim administration, which has governed the military since al-Bashir was ousted.

Sudan was added to the US list in 1993 because the United States believed the administration of al-Bashir was supporting armed groups.

However, many in Sudan consider this undeserved, as al-Bashir was removed last year and Sudan has long worked with the US on counter-terrorism.

The White House and State Department declined to comment when asked about the state of the negotiations.

Burhan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a surprise meeting in Uganda earlier this year. Opening relationships is sensitive, however, as Sudan under al-Bashir was a staunch enemy of Israel.

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