Sudan PM says government has no Israel normalisation mandate
Sudan's premier Abdalla Hamdok told Washington's top diplomat on Tuesday that his government had no mandate to normalise ties with Israel and that any such move would come after the transitional period, a spokesman said.
"The Prime Minister clarified" to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "that the transitional period in Sudan is being led by a wide alliance with a specific agenda - to complete the transition, achieve peace and stability in the country and hold free elections", Sudan's government spokesman Faisal Saleh said in a statement.
It "does not have a mandate beyond these tasks or to decide on normalisation with Israel", Hamdok was quoted as saying.
The transitional government, which took power last year after longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the army following mass protests, is set to remain in office until elections in 2022.
Pompeo arrived in Khartoum from Jerusalem on Tuesday, less than two weeks after Israel and the United Arab Emirates said they would normalise ties in a landmark US-backed deal.
Pompeo is on a regional tour as part of a drive to convince more Arab countries to normalise ties with Israel.
But Hamdok urged the US not to link "the subject of lifting Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and the subject of normalisation with Israel".
Read more: Sudan fires ministry spokesman after Israel normalisation comments
The US put Sudan on its state sponsors of terror blacklist in 1993 because of the Bashir regime's hosting of Al-Qaeda militants.
Osama bin Laden lived there for years in the 1990s before heading to Afghanistan.
The continued blacklisting makes investors wary of putting money into Sudan, even after the US in 2017 lifted a trade embargo. Being on the list prevents the country from benefiting from World Bank or IMF support.
Grappling with high inflation and the coronavirus pandemic, the country badly needs to attract more foreign aid and investment.
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The UAE on August 13 announced it would become the third Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan, to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met the leader of Sudan's transitional sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in Uganda in February and later announced that the two leaders had agreed to cooperate towards normalising ties.
Sudan's cabinet later denied that Burhan had made such a promise, which remains highly controversial in much of the Arab world.
More recently, Sudan's foreign ministry spokesman Haider Badawi said he was in favour of such an accord, but foreign minister Omar Gamaledinne then said the issue had "never been discussed by the Sudanese government" and promptly fired the spokesman.
The coalition of parties and civil society groups which led the protest movement, the Forces of Freedom and Change, argued Tuesday that the government has "no mandate" to normalise ties with Israel, pointing to "the right of Palestinians to their land and to a free and dignified life".