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Top Saudi diplomat makes first Sudan visit since al-Bashir ouster

Sudanese say trip by FM Prince Faisal meant to ‘activate deals’ between two countries

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department, October 14, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Manuel Balce CENETA / POOL / AFP)
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department, October 14, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Manuel Balce CENETA / POOL / AFP)

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday, Sudan’s state-run news agency said, the first visit by the kingdom’s top diplomat since Sudan’s military overthrew former autocratic leader President Omar al-Bashir last year.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan landed at Khartoum’s international airport Tuesday morning. He was received by Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din, SUNA reported.

Prince Faisal was expected to meet with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

SUNA reported that Prince Faisal’s visit was meant to “activate deals” between Sudan and Saudi Arabia. It did not elaborate.

There was no official comment from Saudi Arabia.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow al-Bashir in April 2019, after nearly three decades of rule. Since then, the country has been led by a joint military-civilian council.

The transitional government faces steep challenges to transforming Sudan’s economic system and meeting the demands of protesters who ousted al-Bashir, spurred by the soaring prices of staple goods and rising youth unemployment.

Following al-Bashir’s overthrow, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stepped up to financially support the new leaders of Sudan. Both Gulf monarchies vowed to provide $3 billion in aid to Sudan, with half of the amount already delivered.

Sudan is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels since 2015. Khartoum has sent thousands of troops to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. But recently, Sudan has drawn down its forces, while insisting it has not quit the coalition.

Sudan has recently taken steps toward normalization with Israel, under US pressure, while Washington has also attempted to push Saudi Arabia toward establishing public ties with Jerusalem.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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