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Sudan army agrees Burhan-Netanyahu meeting will boost security

By AFP - Feb 05,2020 - Last updated at Feb 05,2020

KHARTOUM — Sudan's military announced Wednesday it backed a surprise meeting held between the country's leader and Israel's premier in Uganda this week, saying the opening would help boost national security.

General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, chairman of Sudan's ruling sovereign council, met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Entebbe on Monday in a meeting that was not pre-announced.

Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which supported hardline Islamists — including, for a period, Al Qaeda — during the rule of autocrat Omar Al Bashir, who was ousted during mass protests last year.

On Tuesday, Burhan briefed the sovereign council and key ministers about his meeting, saying he met Netanyahu "to protect the national security of Sudan".

The military's support for Burhan on the matter came after top officers met at army headquarters in Khartoum.

"There was a meeting at the army headquarters today, and those present... were briefed about the visit ... and its impact on Sudan's national security," military spokesman Brigadier Amir Mohamed Al-Hassan told AFP.

“The army is in favour of this [Burhan-Netanyahu] meeting as it is in the interest of Sudan’s national security.”

On Wednesday, Burhan met Sudanese editors to explain why he met Israel’s premier.

Burhan told the editors “the main thing that pushed him to take the decision to meet... [Netanyahu] was to secure some key benefits for Sudan,” said Hassan, without elaborating.

“He said that brave decisions were needed in order to change the current situation in Sudan, to ease the economic pressures on Sudanese people, and also to change the internal and foreign policies of Sudan.”

‘Positive direction’ 


Soon after Monday’s meeting in Entebbe, Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli premier believed that post-Bashir Sudan was headed “in a positive direction”.

It said he and Burhan had “agreed to start cooperation leading to normalisation of the relationship between the two countries”.

Sudan has long been part of a decades-old official Arab boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians and occupation of Arab lands.

In the wake of the June War of 1967 in which Israel occupied the Palestinian territories and seized the Golan Heights from Syria, Arab leaders held a historic meeting in Khartoum to announce what became known as the “three nos” — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation called Burhan and Netanyahu’s meeting “a stab in the back of the Palestinian people”. 

In a statement carried on official news agency WAFA, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Netanyahu and his US allies of “trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause”.

Bashir was ousted by the army last April after months of nationwide protests against his iron fisted three-decade rule.

Sudan is now ruled by a joint military-civilian sovereign council headed by Burhan, which is tasked with overseeing the country’s transition to full civilian rule.

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