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Sudan, Israel to "Normalize" Relations

FILE: Sudan's General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, answers questions during an interview, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in New York. On February 2, Sudan and Israel announced they would "normalize" relations (diplomatic recognition).

Israel and Sudan have finalized a deal to normalize relations, with a signing ceremony expected following a transfer of power from the military to a civilian government in Khartoum, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Sudan's foreign ministry earlier said the deal was agreed during a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to "move forward towards normalizing relations between the two countries."

"During the visit, which was made with the consent of the United States, the parties finalized the text of the agreement," an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.

"The signing ceremony is expected to take place after the transfer of power in Sudan to a civilian government that will be established as part of the ongoing transition process in the country," it said.

"We definitely look forward to signing the agreement and then to having diplomatic representatives both in Israel and in Sudan," Lior Haiat, spokesperson for the foreign ministry who took part in the delegation, told Reuters.

Cohen's visit to Khartoum was the first by an Israeli official acknowledged by Sudanese authorities, though there had been a series of exchanges by officials in recent years.

Cohen and Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, discussed deepening cooperation in security and military matters as well as agriculture, energy, health, water and education, Burhan's office said.

After generations of non-recognition, Sudan pledged to take steps towards diplomatic ties with Israel as part of a 2020 deal brokered by then-U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, alongside normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco known as the "Abraham Accords."

In January 2021 Sudan said its then-justice minister Nasredeen Abdulbari had signed the Abraham Accords during a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

As intelligence minister that same year, Cohen made a ground-breaking visit to Sudan, a majority Muslim country.

Cohen said after returning to Israel later on Thursday that Khartoum was long remembered by Israelis as the city where the Arab League in 1967 proclaimed its "Three No's" resolution on Israel - no recognition, no peace and no negotiations.

"We are (now) building a new reality with the Sudanese, in which the 'Three No's' will become the 'Three Yeses'," he said. "Yes to negotiations between Israel and Sudan, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to peace between the states and between the peoples."