U.S. Senators Chris Coons, right, (D-Delaware) and Chris Van Hollenspeaks (D-Maryland) give a press conference at the Corinthia…
FILE - U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., right, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., talk to reporters at the Corinthia Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan, May 5, 2021.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - A delegation of U.S. senators who visited Sudan this week expressed support for Khartoum's transitional government in moving toward democracy and debt relief.

Senators Christopher Coons and Chris Van Hollen met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok; the head of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan; and the ministers of finance, water and irrigation during a three-day visit that ended Thursday morning.

The talks centered on Sudan’s move toward democracy, its efforts to win debt relief and its issues with neighboring Ethiopia, including the location of the border and Ethiopia’s huge dam on the Nile River.

Sudan’s Minister of Finance Jibreel Ibrahim praised the senators for playing a constructive role.

Ibrahim said the two senators were playing a major role in solving the border issue with Ethiopia. He noted that their visit and its timing were extremely important and said the senators were very supportive of Sudan ahead of the upcoming Paris conference on investment in Sudan, including on the issue of clearing Sudan’s arrears to the International Monetary Fund.

The senators also visited Ethiopian refugee camps in the east of the country.

Accent on stability

Coons said the U.S., which removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in December, wants to see Sudan return to stability.

“We are here to visit Khartoum and to visit elsewhere in Sudan to express support and enthusiasm for the transition underway in Sudan and to follow up the American commitment to $700 million in development and assistance, and to hear what else we can be doing to restore a peace, prosperity and security for the people of Sudan,” he said.

Coons also has praised recent Sudanese economic reforms aimed at getting renewed international assistance after years of sanctions.

“Sudan is making a good progress in reentering the global financial system, getting the forgiveness of old debts and getting resolution of challenges that Sudan has faced in terms of international investments," he said, "and we are excited, optimistic about the future.  The ministers have made some strong decisions in terms of economic policy.”

Coons called for Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia to peacefully resolve their differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Sudan and Egypt fear will reduce essential water supplies from the Nile River.

Three-way 'framework'

"Ethiopia certainly has the right to build a dam and to manage the benefits of the hydroelectric power support, but Sudan also has the right to expect appropriate sharing of technical information about flow, about safety — and there should be a framework and agreement achieved between all the three countries, including Egypt. It depends upon the safe and steady flow of the Nile," he said.

The senators’ visit to Khartoum preceded the visit of veteran U.S. diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, the special envoy for the Horn of Africa.

The Biden administration named Feltman as a special envoy last month, to lead efforts to address the region’s political, security and humanitarian issues, including the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled into eastern Sudan.

Feltman is on a trip that will take him to Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea to discuss the interlinked issues and to coordinate the U.S policy toward the region.