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Israeli delegation visits Sudan to meet ruling general: Report

Israeli officials were scheduled to meet with Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Al Arabiya reported, as US diplomats held talks with pro-democracy groups
Dozens of Sudanese doctors demonstrate
Dozens of Sudanese doctors demonstrate in Khartoum on 16 January, 2022, to denounce attacks by security forces against medical personnel during pro-democracy rallies opposed to the October military coup (AFP)

An Israeli delegation landed in the Sudanese capital to meet with army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Wednesday, Al Arabiya reported, as US diplomats also arrived in the country in a bid to end the crisis unleashed by October's military coup.

Israel's public broadcaster Kan reported that a private Israeli plane departed from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport and made a brief stop at Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh before arriving in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya reported that the Israeli delegation was scheduled to meet with Burhan and the head of its military-run ruling council along with other senior officials. The Israeli delegation was expected to depart Wednesday evening.

Sudan agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalise ties with Israel last year, following a similar move made by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco in 2020.

Washington had promised financial and diplomatic incentives to Sudan in exchange for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, including formally removing Khartoum from its state sponsors of terror (SST) list after 27 years.

However, Sudan and Israel have yet to open diplomatic offices and civilian leaders in the country had earlier downplayed the warming of relations.

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Since the country's political crisis erupted, Israel has kept a low profile, despite reports of its close relationship with Khartoum's military rulers.

In November, Axios reported that the Biden administration had asked Israel to press Burhan to restore the civilian government toppled in last year's military-led coup, given the country's ties with the top general.

The 25 October coup derailed a power-sharing transition between the military and civilians that had been painstakingly established in the wake of the overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

The turmoil has been amplified since Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stepped down earlier this month. Hamdok, the civilian face of Sudan's transitional government, resigned after his efforts to bridge the gap between the generals and the country's pro-democracy movement failed.

Also on Wednesday, two senior US diplomats arrived in Sudan to try and find a way out of the crisis roiling the country.

US Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and the newly appointed US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, first met with pro-democracy activists from the Sudanese Professionals Association, according to the US embassy in Khartoum. They were also to later meet with the ruling generals and other political figures.

On Monday, Sudanese security forces killed seven people and injured at least 100 others in one of the bloodiest days of protests since Hamdok's resignation.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that Phee and Satterfield would reiterate Washington's call for Sudanese security forces to "end violence and respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".

Before arriving in Khartoum, Phee and Satterfield attended a meeting of the Friends of Sudan group in Saudi Arabia to rally support for UN efforts to end Sudan's ongoing deadlock.