Israel, Sudan announce deal to normalise relations
KHARTOUM, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Israel and Sudan have finalised a deal to normalise relations, with a signing ceremony expected following a transfer of power from the military to a civilian government in Khartoum, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Sudan's foreign ministry earlier said the deal was agreed during a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to "move forward towards normalising relations between the two countries".
After generations of non-recognition, Sudan pledged to take steps towards diplomatic ties with Israel as part of a 2020 deal brokered by then-U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, alongside normalisation deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco known as the "Abraham Accords".
Cohen's visit to Khartoum was the first by an Israeli official acknowledged by Sudanese authorities, though there had been a series of exchanges by officials in recent years.
"During the visit, which was made with the consent of the United States, the parties finalised the text of the agreement," an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.
"The signing ceremony is expected to take place after the transfer of power in Sudan to a civilian government that will be established as part of the ongoing transition process in the country," it said.
"We definitely look forward to signing the agreement and then to having diplomatic representatives both in Israel and in Sudan," Lior Haiat, spokesperson for the foreign ministry who took part in the delegation, told Reuters.
Cohen and Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, discussed deepening cooperation in security and military matters as well as agriculture, energy, health, water and education, Burhan's office said.
Sudan's military, which has been in charge of the country since an October 2021 coup but says it intends to hand over power to a civilian government following ongoing talks, is seen as having led the move towards establishing relations with Israel.
Civilian groups have been more reluctant and have previously said any deal must be ratified by a transitional parliament that has yet to be formed.
According to state news agency SUNA, Burhan's deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said he had no knowledge of the visit and did not meet the delegation.
In January 2021 Sudan said its then-justice minister Nasredeen Abdulbari had signed the Abraham Accords during a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
As intelligence minister that same year, Cohen made a ground-breaking visit to Sudan, a majority Muslim country.
Cohen said after returning to Israel later on Thursday that Khartoum was long remembered by Israelis as the city where the Arab League in 1967 proclaimed its "Three No's" resolution on Israel - no recognition, no peace and no negotiations.
"We are (now) building a new reality with the Sudanese, in which the 'Three No's' will become the 'Three Yeses'," he said. "Yes to negotiations between Israel and Sudan, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to peace between the states and between the peoples."
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