Israel and Sudan begin talks on economic co-operation and development

Israel's first delegation to Sudan has set the stage for further talks

Sudanese farmers advance on donkeys and cars on a dirt road near a stream in Ardashiva village in Sudan's east-central al-Jazirah state, 70 km south of the capital, on August 8, 2020. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)
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Israel sent a first delegation to Sudan to discuss potential economic and humanitarian co-operation on Monday after the countries announced a US-brokered agreement on October 23 to take steps toward establishing relations, a source said.

The talks focused on how Israel might support Sudan's agriculture, food security, water supplies and healthcare, the source, who declined to be identified by name or nationality, told Reuters.

The Israeli delegates also met separately with representatives of the US Embassy in Khartoum, the source said.

Israeli and Sudanese officials had no immediate comment. Nor did the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Aviation data tweeted by Avi Scharf of Israel's Haaretz newspaper showed that a chartered Turkish plane made a rare Tel Aviv-Khartoum return flight on Monday.

Interviewed by Israel's Army Radio last week, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said the initial delegation to Sudan would be followed within weeks by a larger "economic delegation" – raising the prospect of a possible signing of co-operation deals.

The source familiar with Monday's mission said those talks did not touch on the prospect of a more comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and Sudan.

Sudan followed the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in becoming the third Arab government to engage Israel with the encouragement of Washington. The US sees such contacts as helping to isolate Iran and create a parallel regional process alongside stalled Palestinian statehood talks.

But the military and civilian echelons of the transitional Sudanese government have been divided over how quickly and how far to go towards normalising relations with Israel.

The Israelis' Sudanese interlocutors on Monday included "a range of figures" from the Khartoum leadership, the source said.

A group of Israeli and US envoys flew to Khartoum on October 21 to finalise the terms of the normalisation announcement made by the countries' leaders and US President Donald Trump two days later.


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