U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo to visit Sudan in coming days

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Sudan in the coming days, Sudanese and U.S. officials said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters following a meeting with members of the U.N. Security Council about Iran's alleged non-compliance with a nuclear deal and calling for the restoration of sanctions against Iran at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., August 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Pool

Sudan has been normalising relations with the United States since the overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 but is still seeking removal from a list of countries the U.S. considers as state sponsors of terrorism.

Pompeo is also due to visit Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates between Aug. 23-28. His trip follows an accord between Israel and the UAE this month to forge full relations.

In Sudan, Pompeo will meet Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the head of its ruling council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, “to discuss continued U.S. support for the civilian-led transitional government and express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”, the U.S. State Department said.

A Sudanese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to give details of Pompeo’s visit.

Ending the terrorism listing is a top priority for Sudan’s transitional military-civilian ruling council and the government of technocrats that serves under it.

The listing dates to 1993 and makes Sudan, struggling with a deep economic crisis, technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from international lenders.

A senior government source told Reuters last week that significant progress was expected on the issue in the coming weeks.

In February, Burhan met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but cast doubt on any rapid normalisation of ties.

Sudan announced on Aug. 19 it had sacked its foreign ministry spokesman after he called the UAE’s decision to become the third Arab country to normalise relations with Israel “a brave and bold step”.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Emelia Sithole-Matarise