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Israel emerges again as key requirement before to take Sudan off U.S. terror list

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Flight of US Israeli delegation from Tel Aviv to Khartoum on 21 October 2020 (ST photo)October 22, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Normalization with Israel has surfaced again as a part of the White House’s requirements for Sudan’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism after reports about a second meeting in Khartoum to finalize the process.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Sudan and Israel pell-mell emerged during the ongoing electoral campaign to show the success of President Trump to bring peace in the Middle East.

While the State Department conducted a one-year process to consider if Sudan fulfils the required conditions before to rescind its State Sponsor of Terrorism status, the normalization with Israel is taking place under the direct oversight of the White House and has been implemented by the National Security Council.

However, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, under the pressure of the heteroclitic ruling coalition of the FFC groups had called to separate between the delisting and normalizations processes, pointing that his country has fulfilled all the needed conditions.

But Washington continued its tireless efforts to "broker" the normalization and contacts continued between the two countries as the military component in Khartoum showed its open support for the process.

On Wednesday several media reports affirmed that a joint American Israeli team arrived in Khartoum directly from Tel Aviv to finalize the details on a deal "ending the state of belligerence" between Israel and Sudan after the failure of Abu Dhabi talks last September.

At the time, the Sudanese government said the deal would be acceptable if Washington gives the poor east African nation significant financial support, and write off its debt.

The Associated Press on Thursday evening reported that Sudanese officials in Khartoum confirmed the secret meeting in Khartoum on the condition of anonymity.

"Two senior Sudanese officials confirmed the visit. One of them, a senior military figure, said the U.S.-Israeli delegation came to put final touches on a deal establishing ties with Israel," read the report.

The delegation which includes senior officials from Netanyahu’s office and the U.S. National Security Council met with the head of Sudan’s transitional Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and a top adviser to Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the report said.

The AP report spoke about Israeli aid and investment in Sudan in technology and agriculture. Previous reports mentioned debt relief, U.S. economic aid and financial grants from Gulf states besides investments by American firms.

Pompeo presses Khartoum

In Washington, the State Department said that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke by phone with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

Hamdok and Pompeo agreed on the importance of the rapid passage of legal peace legislation by Congress, said the Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

"Secretary Pompeo applauded Prime Minister Hamdok’s efforts-to-date to improve Sudan’s relationship with Israel and expressed hope that they would continue," further stressed Ortagus.

On Monday, President Trump declared his intention to remove Sudan from the terror list and to notify his decision to the Congress where there is bipartisan support for the deal.

The Wall Street Journal, on Thursday, recalled that Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez still oppose the deal.

"Part of the opposition is because American victims will be compensated more than foreign nationals. But the main objection is that 9/11 victims won’t be included in the deal. Sudan simply doesn’t have the capacity to pay more, and Congress already has compensated 9/11 victims"

The WSJ further stressed that the process would also help to protect Israel from terror groups in the region.

The process of Sudan’s recession is "about the future: preventing Sudan from reverting to a terror sanctuary while continuing progress toward better relations with Israel," stressed the influential newspaper.

U.S. President Clinton added Sudan to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 1993 because the al-Bashir regime at the time was accused of harbouring training camps for Palestinian groups like Hamas, Abu Nidal, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah.

(ST)

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