Sudan to discuss removal from U.S. terrorism list in UAE

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Khartoum (Reuters) – Sudanese officials will discuss the removal of their country from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terror with U.S. officials during a visit to the United Arab Emirates this week, the ruling council said on Sunday.

Sudan’s transitional government, in charge since the toppling of Omar al-Bashir last year, has been pushing to get off the U.S. list, which hinders its ability to access foreign loans to tackle an economic crisis.

In August, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of Sudan establishing ties with Israel during a visit. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told him he had no mandate to do so.

The UAE, a key partner of the U.S., and Bahrain have normalized ties with Israel in deals brokered by Washington, the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to break a longstanding taboo. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he expects other Arab countries to follow suit.

Ties with Israel are a sensitive issue in Sudan, which was among the hardline Muslim foes of Israel under Bashir.

The ruling council said its head, General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, and Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdelbari were in the delegation set to fly on Sunday to Abu Dhabi, where they would first meet UAE officials to discuss regional issues.

Afterwards Abdelbari will meet U.S. officials present in the UAE to discuss the “removal of (the) name of Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, support of the transitional period and writing off American debts on Sudan”.

It gave no details.

The authorities are under pressure to fix the economic crisis, which has worsened since Bashir’s ouster. Inflation hit almost 170% last month, the currency has been in freefall and the government has declared an economic state of emergency.

In February, Burhan met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda, a meeting condemned by Sudanese protesters. He afterwards cast doubt on any rapid normalisation of relations, though Israeli aircraft soon began overflying Sudan.

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