U.S. officials took part in rare Israeli visit to Sudan, source says

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JERUSALEM – An Israeli delegation was accompanied by U.S. officials when it travelled to Khartoum on Wednesday for talks on a potential warming of relations with former adversary Sudan, a person briefed on the trip said on Thursday.

A U.S.-brokered deal normalising ties between Israel and Sudan could add another foreign-policy flourish to U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid for re-election next month.

Top aides to Trump this week escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and UAE delegates to Israel, cementing its new, U.S.-promoted relations with the Gulf states.

The Khartoum trip by Israeli representatives was first disclosed by Israeli public broadcaster Kan, which did not mention any U.S. involvement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and was also working “diligently” to get Khartoum to recognise Israel.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 News on Wednesday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said he believed Israel was “very close to normalising ties with Sudan”.

A source, who was briefed about the Israeli visit, told Reuters that U.S. officials had escorted the delegates to Khartoum. The source, who could not be identified by name or nationality due to the sensitivity of the talks, gave no other details.

A second source confirmed the Israeli delegation’s trip, without commenting on any other officials being present.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which has been spearheading an Israeli outreach in the Gulf and Africa, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Military figures leading Sudan’s political transition have appeared open to normalising ties with Israel, but civilian groups including left-wing and Islamist politicians are more reluctant.

Sudan, which historically has been staunchly opposed to Israel, is 18 months into a political transition after autocrat Omar al-Bashir was forced from power following popular protests.

Reuters

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