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Burhan’s invitation to Washington does not mean support to Sudan’s military: U.S. official

Transitional Military Council leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (SUNA photo)
February 10, 2020 (WASHINGTON) - U.S. senior official said on Monday that the invitation of the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council to visit Washington does not mean to support the military component of the Transitional Authority in the country.

The official who preferred not to be identified made his remarks during a media briefing call with some journalists on the occasion of a visit of the US secretary of State to Angola, Senegal and Ethiopia and other two Gulf countries from 15 to 19 February.

24 hours ahead of a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State called General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and invited him to visit Washington on 2 February.

The move was seen as a shift in the US policy towards Sudan’s civilian-led government. Some even went to say that the invitation gave the green light to the military component to put aside the civilian component and to control the country alone.

Asked about the sense of this invitation, the senior official who spoke exclusively on Africa, however, reiterated the support of the US administration to Hamdok’s government and praised the good cooperation between the two components.

"Absolutely, the United States of America continues to support the transition process and the civilian-led transitional government," he said.

He further recalled that he was in Khartoum about 10 days ago and stressed he was "optimistic" that "both Prime Minister Hamdok and General Burhan saw their relationship as a partnership". He said it was not the impression he had during his first visit to Sudan last year.

"So (...) yes, the United States of America continues to very strongly support the transition and to support the civilian part of the government".

"And as far as meetings go, we’ll just see what happens in the future," he emphasized.

Speaking about his meeting with Netanyahu, al-Burhan said it was suggested by the American administration.

Sudan’s removal from terror list

Commenting on Sudan’s delisting process from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list, the official said it will take some more time.

He recalled his previous statements about Sudan’s removal from the SST list saying it was a process "not flipping a light switch".

"As far as meetings go, obviously, there are still to be some meetings in the future," he said.

"Meetings in the past are not by themselves limiting, so stay tuned as to potential future meetings," he further added.

Several sources close to the Sudanese file in Washington expected that the rescission of Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism would take place this month.

However, the statement of the senior official who exclusively spoke about Africa gives the impression that Washington has not yet finalized its procedures.

Last week, Sudanese Justice Minister Nasr al-Din Abdel Bari was in Washington for meetings with US Under Secretary for Africa Tibor Nagy to discuss some reforms on religious freedom and human rights his government plans to enact soon.

Also, Nagy was in Khartoum on 27 January to discuss a set of issues related to the process with the Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and Foreign Minister Asma Abdallah.