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Russia, Sudan are discussing naval supply centre, not military base: diplomat

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President Al-Bashir meets President Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 23 Nov 2017 (Photo Kremlin)

June 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Moscow and Khartoum are discussing the establishment of a naval supply centre but not a military base on the Red Sea, said the Russian ambassador to Sudan Vladimir Giltov on Saturday.

During a visit to Russia in November 2017, President Omer al-Bashir offered to President Vladimir Putin to host a military base on the Red Sea saying that Sudan faces "major pressure and conspiracy from the United States."

Experts at the time said Russia would be very careful before to accept the offer because it would anger Washington and its allies in the region: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to the Arabic service of the Russian media Sputnik, Giltov confirmed the Sudanese offer but underlined that the ongoing talks between the two countries actually discuss the establishment of a fleet logistics centre, not a naval base.

"I would like to make it clear that talks are not about building a naval base, but about a supply centre for Russian warships in the Red Sea," he said.

The Russian diplomat added that studies and discussions are underway between the competent authorities in Russia and Sudan, and the result of the talks will be announced through official channels.

During his visit to Russia, al-Bashir surprised more than one by his aggressive statements against the U.S. administration which had just cancelled a 20-year embargo on Sudan.

At the time it was reported that the offer was triggered by the U.S. refusal to remove Sudan from the list of countries supporting terrorism under the government of President al-Bashir who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bashir stated that his country needed protection from "U.S. aggression," claiming that Washington plans to divide his country into five states and pointed to the secession of South Sudan.

The Sudanese president further said Sudan was interested in purchasing Russia’s Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets as well as S-300 air defence systems.

When asked about this matter, Giltov confirmed that negotiations are taking place between the two countries at the level of defence ministries and concerned institutions, adding that "more time is needed to reach the desired results."

He pointed to the military, legal and financial aspects of such deals adding the parties are willing to finalize these contracts.

(ST)

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