Sudan and Israel Agree to Normalize Ties in U.S.-Brokered Deal

Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize their relations and open economic and trade ties, the countries and the U.S. announced Friday. The U.S. said earlier this week that it would remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list as part of the agreement.

“This is an incredible deal for Israel and Sudan,” President Trump said in the Oval Office, according to a White House pool report. “For decades, Sudan has been at a state of war with Israel. They have been in a state of war and boycotted Israeli goods. There was no relationship whatsoever.”

Sudan has had a transitional government since last year, when the military ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir following a popular uprising. The country recently agreed to pay $335 million into a fund for U.S. terrorism victims and their families, as Trump announced earlier this week.

“Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list,” Trump said.

Sudan has been desperately trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions tied to the terror list, taking steps such as settling claims related to the bombing of the USS Cole 20 years ago and agreeing to payments over the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania.

But Sudan recently ran into a new hurdle in getting off the terror list, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the country it would also need to “sign on to the Trump administration’s Middle East agenda and normalize ties with Israel,” as NPR’s Michele Kelemen reported early this month.

Trump’s announcement of the payment agreement and his promise to lift the terrorism-sponsor label quickly increased speculation that Sudan would join Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to establish ties with Israel.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell