AFRICOM hails ‘new beginning’ in US-Sudan relationship

(KHARTOUM) – Senior leaders at U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spoke of a new era in the relationship with Sudan two years after a popular uprising that put an end to the rule of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

Last year saw the removal of Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, reinstatement of the country’s sovereign immunity in US courts, lifting of several other sanctions and a package of financial aid from Washington.

Furthermore, Khartoum also witnessed visits by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Treasury Secretary as the relationship gained more momentum particularly in light of the normalization deal with Israel brokered by Washington.

This week, Africom’s deputy commander for Civil-Military Engagement Andrew Young and Director of Intelligence Rear Adm. Heidi Berg arrived in what they described as a “historic visit” to Sudan “to foster cooperative engagement and expand partnership development”.

“This week is a significant moment in the resumption of a relationship between our two countries, a relationship based on trust and a mutual commitment to ensuring peace and prosperity in Eastern Africa,” Berg said in a statement released by Africom.

She stressed the need to ensure that military and government institutions in Sudan are rooted in transparency, accountability, respect for human rights as it embarks on a new strategy for countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment.

Berg spoke to the Sudanese Higher Military Academy professionals about the importance of professional militaries and U.S. Africa Command’s commitment to partnership in Africa.

“Partnerships are the key to long-lasting security and stability,” said Berg adding that they are also "the most effective and long-lasting way to address shared challenges and keep countries safe. Events, where we learn from one another, will be an important foundation for our renewed relationship.”

Young for his part underscored the importance of the engagement and the need for partnerships rooted in shared values and trust between institutions and countries.

"We want to build trust, build partnerships and get after solutions to problems together,” said Young. We want to operate from a point of goodwill and establish a close relationship."

“We want to deepen and broaden our relationship and pursue shared objectives" he added.

Both officials held meetings with the chairman of sovereign council Abdel-Fatah al-Burhan, Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok and Defense minister Yassin Ibrahim Yassin. They also visited the Sudanese Higher Military Academy.

"We are pleased to host this high-level U.S. Africa Command delegation to Sudan, which highlights our growing bilateral relationship and underscores the United States’ support for Sudan’s democratic transition," said Brian Shukan, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Sudan.

Young said the US is “exploring possibilities and opportunity with Sudan, militarily and diplomatically”. “We see increased engagement in the months and years ahead”.

The UAE-based National newspaper quoted Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former chief of staff for the US special envoy to Sudan as saying that a visit by al-Burhan to Germany and the establishment of a US naval presence on the Red Sea in Sudan are among the ideas being considered.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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