Khartoum, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- Mike Pompeo, the first US secretary of state in 15 years to visit Sudan, left here empty-handed Tuesday as the African nation’s transitional government said it lacked the authority to normalize relations with Israel.
“Happy to announce that we are on the FIRST official NONSTOP flight from Israel to Sudan!,” Pompeo tweeted en route to Khartoum.
But if Washington’s top diplomat was expecting Sudan to follow the example of the United Arab Emirates by announcing normalization with Israel, the leaders of the transitional administration that took charge in April 2019 after the ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir were quick to pour cold water on that notion.
Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok told Pompeo that a decision to establish relations with Israel was beyond the scope of the caretaker administration.
“The transitional government does not have an authorization … to decide on normalization with Israel, and this matter will be decided once the institutions of the transitional power are completed,” Hamdok said, according to government spokesman Faisal Saleh.
Sudan took a hard line against Israel during the rule of al-Bashir, but there have been signs since his fall that Khartoum might be open to easing its stance.
Earlier this year, the chair of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met in Uganda with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Afterward, however, the Cabinet in Khartoum said that foreign relations were not part of al-Burhan’s remit.
And prominent figures from within the Forces for Freedom and Change movement that led the uprising against al-Bashir have likewise said that the transitional government has no mandate to change Sudan’s long-standing policy on Israel.
Saleh said Hamdok told Pompeo that the caretaker administration has a “specific agenda to complete the transition process, achieve peace and stability in the country, until the holding of free elections.”
In light of that reality, Hamdok asked Pompeo to treat the question of ties with Israel as “separate” from that of removing Sudan from the US government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Sudan has been on the list since 1993, mainly because it harbored al-Qaeda found Osama bin Laden for five years.
At the end of 2019, the US agreed to remove Sudan from the list if Khartoum met two conditions: cooperate in the fight against terrorism and compensate victims of al-Qaeda’s 2000 attack on the US destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.
After his discussions with Hamdok, Pompeo met with al-Burhan, who urged the secretary to remove Sudan from the terrorism blacklist, state-run news agency SUNA reported.
“Met with Sudanese Sovereign Council Chair General Burhan to reaffirm US support for the civilian-led transitional government and support for the deepening Israel-Sudan bilateral relationship,” Pompeo said on Twitter. EFE