Jan 25, 2021 - World

Sudan hosts first-ever visit from Israeli government minister

Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen became the first Israeli government minister ever to visit Sudan on Monday.

Driving the news: Cohen met in Khartoum with the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as well as Sudan's minister of defense and intelligence chief. The meeting comes three months after a U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and Sudan.

  • During the visit, Cohen and the Sudanese officials discussed plans to cancel a 1958 boycott law which bans Sudanese nationals from traveling to Israel, trading with Israel, or engaging in any contacts with Israeli entities.
  • Flashback: Secret meetings between Sudanese and Israeli ministers took place in the 1950's and the 1980's, as well as last year, but never in Sudan itself.

Background: Under the U.S.-Sudan-Israel deal, the Trump administration removed Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list and provided a large aid package.

  • The Trump administration wanted to organize a trilateral signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, but COVID-19 restrictions and tensions on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border made that impossible.
  • Instead, then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Khartoum and signed the Abraham Accords declaration — the same declaration signed by the UAE and Bahrain as part of their deals with Israel — with the Sudanese minister of justice.

What’s next: The deputy commander of U.S. Africa Command will visit Khartoum on Tuesday and meet with Burhan and other senior official to discuss military and counterterrorism cooperation.

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