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U.S. says Sudan agrees to normalization with Israel

October 23, 2020 - The United States announced on Friday that Sudan has agreed to normalize ties with Israel following a conference call between leaders of U.S., Sudan and Israel.

President Donald Trump reacts after hanging up a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, second from left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and others applaud in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The announcement follows months of speculation and reports that the US has been quietly pressing Sudan to normalize relations with Israel in return for an expedited path to getting off the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has been resisting the normalization idea on the grounds that he does not have the mandate and has also attempted to obtain a sizable cash infusion.

Hamdok also insisted that delisting occurs before any move towards normalization, something which the U.S. eventually agreed to.

"The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations. In addition, the leaders agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture," a statement issued by the White House said following a conference call between US President Donald Trump, Chairman of Sudan Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) Abdel-Fatah al-Burhan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamdok.

"The leaders also agreed that delegations will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate agreements of cooperation in those areas as well as in agriculture technology, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples".

The TSC issued an unusual statement earlier today announcing that Trump has signed off on removing Sudan from list of states that sponsor terrorism.

On Monday Trump tweeted that he would proceed with delisting once terrorism claims settlement money is deposited by Sudan in an escrow account.

A senior Sudanese official told Sudan Tribune that the money was deposited on Friday.

The White House confirmed Trump’s delisting decision after the money has been deposited.

"President Donald J. Trump has informed Congress of his intent to formally rescind Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families. Yesterday, in fulfilment of that agreement, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families, " the White House Press Secretary said separate remarks.

The U.S. also hailed the Transitional government of Sudan for demonstrating "courage and commitment to combating terrorism, building its democratic institutions, and improving its relations with its neighbours".

"In light of this historic progress, and following President Trump’s decision to remove Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, the United States and Israel agreed to partner with Sudan in its new start and ensure that it is fully integrated into the international community".

The U.S. said it will "take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan’s debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries.

Israel along with the U.S. "also committed to working with their partners to support the people of Sudan in strengthening their democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into their economic potential"

The U.S. Congress is still awaiting the official notification from the White House, sources said. It is not clear when it will be forwarded.