CAIRO - Egypt’s foreign minister on Monday called for more support for neighboring Sudan’s new civilian-led government, including getting it off the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
The U.S. named Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993. In one of its last acts, the Obama administration began a formal process to de-list Sudan. However, this was put on hold when mass protests erupted in December against President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, which ended when the military ousted him in April.
Sameh Shoukry said Egypt is now working with Washington to end Sudan’s international pariah status. The country has a newly installed government under a power-sharing agreement between the pro-democracy movement and the military, which many feared would cling to power.
Shoukry was the first foreign official to visit Sudan after its new cabinet was sworn in Sunday.
“What the Sudanese people have achieved is a role model,” Shoukry told a joint news conference at the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, alongside the country’s first woman foreign minister, Asmaa Abdalla.
He said Egypt has been working with regional and Western allies to build support for the transitional government and that efforts “to coordinate strongly with the Sudanese government will continue.”
He also met with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the sovereign council, and the new prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok.
Sudan says getting off the U.S. state sponsor of terror list is crucial to rebuilding the country and readmitting it into the international economy after years of sanctions.
Prime Minister Hamdok said last week that he’d already held a “long discussion” with the Trump administration on the matter.
He also told a local TV station in August that Sudan needs up to $8 billion in foreign aid in the next two years and another $2 billion deposited as reserves to shore up the plunging local currency.
For years, Egypt’s ties with Sudan were frayed by repeated failures to reach a deal over an upstream Nile dam being built by Ethiopia, and the revival of a longstanding dispute over a border territory held by Cairo and claimed by Khartoum.
Ahmed Hafez, a spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, said negotiations with Ethiopia over its $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were “at the forefront” of Shoukry’s talks in Sudan.
Egypt accused al-Bashir of siding with Ethiopia in the dispute over the soon-to-be-completed dam. Egypt fears the dam could reduce its share of the Nile River which serves as a lifeline for the country’s 100 million people. Previous attempts at resolving the lasting dispute have failed.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Abdalla said talks did not touch on the dispute over the Egyptian-held border territory known as the Halayeb Triangle, which dates back to British colonial times.