The spokesperson, Haidar Badawi Sadiq, said on Tuesday that Sudan “aspires towards a peace agreement with Israel… a relationship of equals built upon Khartoum’s interests”. Such an agreement could be signed “at the end of this year or the beginning of next year”, he said, praising the recent agreement to normalise ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as “courageous”.
He added that “there is no reason for the enmity to continue” and that Sudan “does not deny the communication between the two countries”.
The acting Sudanese Foreign Minister, Omar Qamar al-Din Ismail, said he was “surprised” by Sadiq’s remarks. “The matter of relations with Israel has not been discussed in the Foreign Ministry at all. No one tasked Haidar Badawi Sadiq with making statements on this matter”, he added. Sadiq has reportedly since been removed from his position.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had responded to Sadiq’s initial comments, stating that “Israel, Sudan and the entire region will benefit from the peace agreement and together they can build a better future for all the peoples of the region. We will do everything necessary to make this vision a reality”.
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi underlined: “The announcement by the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlights the fundamental change that is taking place in the Middle East in general, and in Sudan in particular, 53 years after the Khartoum Conference in which Sudan called for no recognition of the State of Israel”.
In what became known as the ‘Three Nos’ of Khartoum, the Arab League pledged that there would be “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it” following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Ashenkazi added: “I welcome any step that promotes normalisation, peace agreements and recognition between countries. Israel’s diplomatic activity led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, continues to create further important opportunities such as the connections between Israel and Sudan”.
After Sudan backtracked on the comments, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen insisted that peace talks with Khartoum were ongoing. A Sudanese government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed yesterday that talks between Sudanese and Israeli officials have been taking place for months.
In June, an Israeli commercial flight received permission to fly over Sudan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu met with the head of the country’s transitional government earlier this year in Uganda.
Speculation over more agreements between Israel and its neighbours has grown following the announcement of the normalisation of Israel-UAE ties last week, with Bahrain, Oman and Morocco highlighted as possibilities.