Trump moves to end Sudan terror listing amid Israel ties push

Trump moves to end Sudan terror listing amid Israel ties push

In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. was removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Friday called for an amicable solution to be reached over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute with Ethiopia and Egypt.

As an article from the Brookings Institution-a think tank that is a bastion of the establishment and from which it is likely that former Vice President Joe Biden will recruit some of his foreign-policy team-made clear, Trump's strategy is considered too risky by the so-called "adults".

As the call was ongoing, PLO official Wasel Abu Youssef released a statement calling the agreement "a new stab in the back for the Palestinians".

"The leaders agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations", according to a joint statement issued by the three countries.

"In addition, the leaders agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus of agriculture".

A senior United States official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such issues as formal establishment of diplomatic ties would be resolved later.

It had been speculated that Sudan could make a deal with Israel in exchange for removal from the United States terror designation, but on Monday, Trump said that Khartoum's removal would take place in exchange for a $335m payment to "US terror victims and families".

The demands being made upon the Sudanese spring from the same instincts that led Trump to insist that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members pay more for their own defense, as well as his tough approach to Iran and his decision that once ISIS was largely defeated, the US need not continue to participate in the endless conflict in Syria. On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office condemned the Israel-Sudan deal.

"I could see Iran ultimately - it sounds, right now, it doesn't sound like something that would happen, but I see it happening", the president said.

His announcement came shortly after the White House said he had informed Congress of his intent to remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list. The two sides originally reached an understanding earlier this year that Sudan would pay $335 million toward a court settlement for the victims of al-Qaeda's 1998 attack on USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as a smaller sum for relatives of victims of the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

"Today represents a momentous step forward in the United States-Sudan bilateral relationship and marks a pivotal turning point for Sudan", a White House statement said.

Trump's aides have been pressing Sudan to normalize ties with Israel after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to agree to formal links with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.

"Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list", Trump said.

The Sudanese premier wants approval from a yet-to-be formed parliament to proceed with broader normalization, and that may not be a quick progress given sensitivities and civilian-military differences.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Channel 13 News that Israel is "very close to normalizing ties with Sudan". Irans Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also openly threatening Sudans government with retaliation on Twitter if it joins those making peace with Israel.

The normalization agreement had been in the works for some time but was finalized when Trump's Mideast peace team, led by Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, visited the region earlier this week to mark the first commercial flight between Israel and Bahrain and then went on to the U.A.E., according to US officials.

Kushner called the normalisation deals the start of a "paradigm shift" in the Middle East.

The political dynamics changed with the overthrow previous year of Sudan's long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir and his replacement by a transitional civilian-military council.

Sudan has been seeking for years to remove the designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which severely impedes investment as few foreign businesses want to risk the wrath of USA prosecution.

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