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Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met today in Uganda with the leader of Sudan's governing council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and discussed the possibility of normalizing relations, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Why it matters: Today's meeting follows years of hostility from Sudan toward Israel and signals a diplomatic opening under the joint civilian-military government that replaced longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.

Flashback: Sudanese soldiers fought against Israel in the 1948 and 1967 wars. The country has also hosted Hamas headquarters and was used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a logistical hub for arms smuggling to Gaza.  

Behind the scenes:

  • The planned meeting between Netanyahu and the Sudanese leader was kept under an Israeli military censor gag order for several days. It was lifted only after the meeting ended and press reports emerged in Sudan.  
  • Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hosted the meeting and mediated between the two. The meeting lasted two hours, and one of the issues discussed was opening Sudanese airspace to Israeli airlines.
  • In talks leading up to the meeting, Sudan asked Israel to help open doors in Washington and encourage the Trump administration to change Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terror, Israeli officials told me.
  • Netanyahu agreed and raised the issue with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week in Washington. Last night before Netanyahu left for Uganda, Pompeo called Burhan and invited him for meetings in Washington next week.

What they're saying: Netanyahu said after the meeting he believes Sudan “is moving in a new and positive direction." Netanyahu said he had emphasized that to Pompeo and added, “Mr. Burhan wants to help his country to modernize and get out of its international isolation."

Go deeper: Sudan's prime minister makes "historic" visit to rebel stronghold

Go deeper

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse under scrutiny for elite club affiliations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in February. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Image

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is a member of an exclusive Rhode Island sailing club that lacks diversity.

Why it matters: Whitehouse has repeatedly spoken out against systemic racism and come under scrutiny this week for his family's affiliation with elite clubs. This is the second such club accused of lacking diversity that the senator has been linked to in recent days

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.

1 hour ago - World

State Dept. fears Chinese threats to labor auditors

A space for media is designated by Chinese authorities near a mosque in the Xinjiang region of China. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department is concerned organizations performing supply-chain audits in China are coming under pressure from Chinese authorities.

Why it matters: U.S. law prohibits importing products made through forced labor, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to verify whether products from China are tainted.