US President Donald Trump has announced that Sudan will normalise relations with Israel – the third such deal his administration has brokered in recent months.
Sudan has been a longtime member of Arab League and supported Saudi lead peace plans for Israel and Palestine.
Mr Trump invited reporters inside the Oval Office today as he officially sealed the agreement on a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
“The state of Israel and the Republic of Sudan have agreed to make peace,” Mr Trump said.
Sudan’s commitment to normalise relations follows similar agreements involving Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were also reached with help from the US.
But this one is arguably more significant. Unlike those nations, Sudan was technically still at war with Israel, making this a genuine peace deal.
The President said he expected more countries to reach similar deals in the coming months.
“There are many, many more coming,” he said.
Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, told Reuters it was “obviously a great breakthrough” and the start of a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East.
“Getting peace agreements done is not as easy as we are making them look right now. They are very hard to do,” said Mr Kushner.
Mr Netanyahu hailed the deal as “a dramatic breakthrough for peace”.
As part of the agreement, Mr Trump has announced that Sudan will be removed from the US government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The country is in a period of upheaval following the overthrow of its longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir last year. It is currently being governed by a transitional council.
A statement released by the White House praised Sudan’s efforts to move towards democracy and gave more detail on the deal.
“After decades of living under a brutal dictatorship, the people of Sudan are finally taking charge. The Sudanese transitional government has demonstrated its courage and commitment to combating terrorism, building its democratic institutions, and improving its relations with its neighbours,” the statement read.
“In light of this historic progress, and following President Trump’s decision to remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list, the United States and Israel agreed to partner with Sudan in its new start and ensure that it is fully integrated into the international community.
“The United States will take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan’s debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
“The United States and Israel also committed to working with their partners to support the people of Sudan in strengthening their democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into their economic potential.”
Delegations from the three nations will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate co-operation agreements in those areas.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Hamdok expressed their appreciation for President Trump for his pragmatic and unique approach to ending old conflicts and building a future of peace and opportunity for all the people of the region,” the White House said.
Mr Trump also took a shot at one of the reporters in the room, Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason, mocking his face mask.
“This is Jeff Mason. He’s got a mask on that’s the largest mask I think I’ve ever seen,” he told the other leaders.
The press pool reported there were between 40 and 50 people crammed into the Oval Office, most of them not wearing masks despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump’s efforts to promote peace in the Middle East earned him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination earlier this year.
The nomination was submitted by Norwegian politician Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who leads the country’s right-leaning Progress Party.
“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Mr Tybring-Gjedde told Fox News in September, explaining his decision to put Mr Trump’s name forward.
He also mentioned the President’s attempts to reach a denuclearisation deal with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and praised his decision to withdraw a large number of US troops from the Middle East.
Mr Tybring-Gjedde also nominated Mr Trump for the prize in 2018, citing his Singapore summit with Kim.
Anyone can be nominated for the prize, as long as their name is submitted by a “qualified nominator”. You can read more about the criteria on the committee’s website. A few hundred people tend to be nominated each year.
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