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Officials say Israeli minister visited Sudan to discuss relations

CAIRO (AP) – An Israeli delegation led by the country’s intelligence minister has quietly visited Sudan and met with the leaders of the African nation, officials from both countries said on Tuesday.

Monday’s visit was the first visit by an Israeli minister to Sudan less than three weeks after Khartoum signed an agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, head of the Israeli delegation, met Sudanese General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim and other military and government officials.

Sudan became the third Arab state to normalize relations with Israel under the Trump administration last year under a deal brokered by the United States and known as the “Abraham Accords.”

Sudanese officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the visit with media, said the Israeli delegation had discussed “steps” to move forward in relations between the two. nations. They didn’t elaborate.

Cohen’s office confirmed the visit, saying it was the first official visit by an Israeli minister to Sudan.

Arye Shalicar, an Israeli government official who took part in the delegation, said the atmosphere was “very friendly” and the two sides discussed water, aviation, transport, health. and technological cooperation, as well as security and strategic affairs.

“It shows their willingness to advance peace with us, to normalize relations,” he said.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The county is now ruled by a joint military and civilian government that seeks better ties with Washington and the West.

The “Abraham Accords” are named after the biblical patriarch revered by Muslims and Jews. Khartoum signed the agreement Jan. 6 during a visit to the country by then-US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Before former President Donald Trump’s announcement last October, a high American-Israeli delegation visited Sudan to put the finishing touches on the normalization chord.

The Trump administration also announced diplomatic pacts last year between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – the first since Jordan recognized Israel in the 1990s and Egypt in the 1970s. Morocco also has established diplomatic relations with Israel.

The agreements are all made with countries geographically distant from Israel that have played a minor role, if any, in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Although Sudan is not a regional power, establishing ties with Israel is deeply symbolic. Sudan hosted the Khartoum summit in 1967 where Arab countries vowed never to make peace with Israel, and more recently have had close ties with Israeli enemies like Hamas and Hezbollah.

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Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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