CAIRO (AP) – Sudan said on Wednesday that it signed an “Abraham Agreement” with the US, paving the way for the African country to normalize relations with Israel.
A statement from the Sudan’s Prime Minister’s Office said Justice Minister Nasredin Abdulbari on Wednesday signed the agreement with US Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin.
The recent US deal between Arab countries and Israel by President Donald Trump’s administration has been a major foreign policy achievement. The deals were named the “Abraham Agreement” after the biblical paternal side respected by Muslims and Jews.
It was signed just two months after Trump announced that Sudan would begin normalizing relations with Israel.
Prior to Sudan, the Trump administration signed a diplomatic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the end of last year – Jordan recognized Israel and Egypt in the 1970s in the 1990s. Morocco also established diplomatic relations with Israel.
The agreements are with all countries that are geographically far from Israel and have played a small role, if any, in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Allegations have also contributed to isolating and weakening the Palestinians by destroying the long-standing Arab consensus that Israel should be recognized only in exchange for concessions in the peace process.
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The US and Sudan on Wednesday agreed to settle the African country’s debt at the World Bank, which is widely seen as an important step towards the country’s economic recovery after a long time in 2019.
The move came during Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin’s visit to Khartoum, which led him to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, arriving at Mnuchin at Khanum’s International Airport, where he met Finance Minister Heba Mohammed Ali and US in-charge D’Afair in Sudan Brian Shukan.
The statement said that this is the first visit of the US head of treasury sitting in Sudan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo August became the first top US diplomat to visit Sudan since 2005, when Condoleza Rice visited. Pompeo was also the most senior US official to have visited the African country since al-Bashir came to power last year.
Mnuchin’s visit followed a one-day visit to Cairo, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, a close aide of the US. Stops are a part of activity during the last days of the Trump administration. Democrat Joe Biden became president on January 20.
The US Treasury Secretary met with Prime Minister Abdullah Hamadok, and is scheduled to meet with other Sudanese leaders, including General Abdel-Fatta Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council.
The visit comes at a time when our bilateral relations are taking historic steps towards a better future. Hamdok tweeted, “We plan to materialize today’s era as our relationship enters #NewEra.”
The statement said Mnuchin’s one-day visit focused on the country’s struggling economy and US economic aid, including debt relief. Sudan today has more than $ 60 billion in foreign debt. Relief from its arrears and access to foreign loans are widely seen as a gateway to economic recovery.
Sudan’s finance ministry said it wrote a “memorandum of understanding” with the US Treasury Department to facilitate the payment of Sudan’s dues to the World Bank.
The ministry said the settlement would enable the government of Sudan to receive more than $ 1 billion annually from the World Bank, as Sudan had been designated as a state for nearly three decades. It did not provide much information.
The Ministry of Justice, however, announced last month that the US would give the World Bank a $ 1 billion bridge loan to help clear Sudan’s dues, in addition to $ 1.1 billion of direct and indirect assistance with the institution.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy following a popular uprising in April 2019 to overthrow al-Bashir’s army. The county is now ruled by a joint military and civilian government that seeks better relations with Washington and the West.
The government is grappling with a huge budget deficit and widespread scarcity of essential commodities including fuel, bread and medicine.
According to official figures, annual inflation has gone up by 200% in the previous months.
Last month, Trump’s administration finalized the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move was an important impetus for the government in Khartoum to normalize relations with Israel.
The two countries, Sudan and Israel, have agreed to full diplomatic relations, Making Sudan the third Arab state after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – to normalize relations with Israel late last year. Morocco also established diplomatic relations with Israel.
Sudan’s economy has been plagued by American sanctions and mismanagement for decades under Al-Bashir, who has ruled the country since the 1989 Islamic-backed military coup.
The designation dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists. Sudan is believed to have served as a pipeline to Iran to supply arms to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
Mnuchin’s visit came amid growing tension between military and civilian members of the Transitional Government of Sudan. This tension, which has revived in recent weeks, is largely focused on the economic assets of the Sudanese military, which the civilian-run Ministry of Finance does not control.
John Prendergast, co-founder of The Sentry Watchdog Group, urged the US Treasury Secretary to pressurize the military and security apparatus to allow “independent oversight” to businesses under his control.
He said, “When Secretary Mnuchin is taking the lead in Khartoum, it is important that he weighs in with strong support for international anti-money laundering standards and fiscal transparency, which allows Sudan to counter the spoils of its national economy Are required. “