Israel and Sudan have agreed to move towards forging normal relations for the first time, Israeli officials said on Monday, after the leaders of the two countries met in Uganda.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, in Entebbe.
“It was agreed to start cooperation leading to normalisation of the relationship between the two countries,” an Israeli statement said, Aljazeera reported.
“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalisation of relations between the two countries,” Netanyahu tweeted. “History!”
A Sudanese Foreign Ministry official announced that his government is “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel,” drawing a pledge from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “do all that’s needed” to wrap up a deal.
The announcements came days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced an agreement to establish formal diplomatic ties.
While Sudan does not have the resources and influence of the UAE, it has a far more hostile history toward Israel.
Sudan hosted the landmark Arab conference after the 1967 Mideast war where eight Arab countries approved the “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations.
In 1993, the United States designated Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism in part for its support of a number of anti-Israel militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
But in recent years those hostilities have softened, and both countries have expressed readiness to normalize relations.
Sky News Arabia quoted a Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying his government looked forward to a peace agreement “based on equality and Sudanese interests.”
“There is no reason to continue hostility between Sudan and Israel,” the spokesman, Haidar Badawi, was quoted as saying.
“We don’t deny that there are communications” with Israel, he added, saying both countries would gain much from a deal.
A Sudanese government official told The Associated Press that deliberations between Sudanese and Israeli officials have been going on for months, with help from Egypt, the UAE, and the U.S., according to The Christian Science Monitor.
“It’s a matter of time. We are finalizing everything. The Emirati move encouraged us and helped calm some voices within the government who were afraid of backlash from the Sudanese public,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.