Saudi foreign minister meets Sudanese leaders in Khartoum

Saudi foreign minister meets Sudanese leaders in Khartoum
3 min read
08 December, 2020
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan met with senior Sudanese leader in Khartoum on Tuesday.
The Saudi FM made a one-day visit to Sudan [Getty]
Saudi Arabia's top diplomat flew into the Sudanese capital on Tuesday for a one-day visit to meet with senior leaders, Saudi media reported.

Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday morning and held meetings with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Prime Minister Abdullah Hadmok and Foreign Minister Omar Qamar Al-Din.

The allies discussed bi-lateral relations and suggested talks on implementing previous Riyadh-Khartoum agreements were also on the table, Sudanese state media reported.

Sudan is a member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, although earlier this year Khartoum announced a reduction of troops.

In February, Sudan's Minister of Culture and Information, Faisal Muhammad Salih, suggested the coalition itself was rethinking the conflict, which also explained the UAE's withdrawal of hundreds of troops from Yemen.

"There is now a reconsideration of the Yemen war in general, even among the major countries in the coalition, and it was not easy for Sudan to take a sudden decision to withdraw the forces, so a gradual reduction is taking place with the approval of the Arab coalition countries," Saleh said, according to Sputnik.

"There is a conviction that military action will not solve the problem but rather make it more complicated, and we believe that the current efforts will lead very soon to the decline of military action and will be replaced by negotiation and dialogue efforts," he added.

Bin Farhan's visit to Sudan was the first such trip since former President Omar Al-Bashir was toppled by pro-democracy protesters.

It also came weeks after Sudan announced it would be joining the UAE and Bahrain in normalising ties with Israel, despite Palestinian opposition to the move.

Though no announcements has yet been made, analysts believe Saudi Arabia could also follow suit in formalising relations with Israel.

However, officials last week said Sudan has warned the US it will pull out of a Washington-brokered agreement to normalise ties with Israel if Congress fails to restore its sovereign immunities by the end of the year.

Last month's deal is in danger of collapsing if Congress fails to approve parts of the delisting by the year's end, five officials and others familiar with the talks told The New York Times.

Sudan's immunities were removed in the 1990s as part of the terror designation, exposing the country to multi-million dollar lawsuits over two major Al-Qaeda attacks.

Khartoum was placed on the State Sponsors of Terror list over its hosting of Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda figures between 1991 and 1996 under former dictator Omar Al-Bashir.

Hard-hit by a long-standing economic crisis, amplified by the coronavirus pandemic, Sudan has put its hopes of attracting foreign investment and aid after its de-listing on hold.

Al-Burhan issued Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the ultimatum last week, the NYT reported.

Read more: How US blackmail pushed Sudan to normalise ties with Israel

Pompeo assured the Sudanese de-facto leader that the country's sovereign immunities would be restored within the next few weeks, a person familiar with the conversation said.

As such, Trump administration officials are planning a signing ceremony for the nascent Sudanese-Israeli peace accord expected to take place in late December.

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