Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has said he discussed his country’s listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to Khartoum.
Sudan wants to be removed from the list so sanctions can be lifted.
The country has been listed since the 1990s when al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived there, as a guest of ex-President Omar al Bashir’s government.
Bashir has since been overthrown and relations with the US have eased.
On his part, Pompeo was urging Sudan to normalize relations with Israel.
Hamdok tweeted: “We had direct & transparent conversation regarding delisting Sudan”.
Sudan is named along with North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
The country’s leaders are desperate to end the country’s economic isolation and gain access to the dollar-based international financial system to attract loans and investment.
One of the key conditions set by the US for Sudan to be removed from the list was to compensate the families of 17 US sailors who died when their ship, the USS Cole, was bombed by al-Qaeda at a port in Yemen in 2000.
Sudan agreed to this in February.
‘Hopeful of closer Israel-Arab relations’
Earlier, Pompeo had said he was on the first official direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum, which was described as “historic” by the US embassy in Jerusalem.
He is promoting closer ties between Israel and Arab countries on his regional tour to Israel, Sudan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.
On his stop in Israel, he urged more Arab states to make a peace deal with Israel.
He was referring to the agreement between UAE and Israel, brokered by US President Donald Trump, earlier this month.
We are “very hopeful we will see other Arab nations join in this”, he said.
In a statement on Twitter Pompeo said that he discussed “Sudan’s commitment to deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship” with the prime minister.
But the current transitional government in Sudan “does not have a mandate… to decide on normalization with Israel”, spokesperson Faisal Saleh is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
A new era between Israel and Arab states?
The recent agreement is only the third peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement heralded a new era, adding: “I hope we’ll have good news in the future, maybe in the near future.”
Israeli and US officials believe Bahrain, Oman, and Sudan could be next.
In February Netanyahu met with the head of Sudan’s sovereign council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Uganda, after which Israel said the two countries had agreed to move towards forging normal relations.
However, Sudan’s foreign ministry sacked its spokesman last week after he praised the UAE’s peace treaty as “a brave and bold step”.