KHARTOUM - A delegation from Israel visited Sudan Monday for talks aimed at advancing a U.S.-brokered deal to establish formal relations. Sudan is the third Arab government looking to improve relations with Israel with Washington's support.
Israel said it sent its official delegation to Sudan to firm up the U.S.-backed normalization deal.
According to Israeli media, the delegation is part of a small group of officials who are preparing higher level visits scheduled to take place in a few weeks.
A government source told VOA that the Israeli delegation held hours-long meetings with Sudanese officials in Khartoum, discussing cooperation in the fields of agriculture, water and security.
Analyst Othman Mirghani says establishing good relations with Sudan is important to Israel, which wants to normalize relations with other African countries as well.
Mirghani says Israel is aware of Sudan's geopolitical position and its potential to influence the peace deal in Africa. He says Israel is trying to make Sudan a foothold in Africa and thinks this is the Israeli plan in strategic terms.
Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel last month, following Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, in a deal brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump.
As part of the deal, the U.S. agreed to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that may allow the country to obtain loans from institutions such as the World Bank.
Observers are concerned the Sudanese people might reject ties with Israel, due to public support for the Palestinians.
Some, however, like 24-year Isra'a Ahmed, are welcoming Sudan's changing foreign policy.
Ahmed says as Sudanese she doesn't mind Sudan having ties with any country as long as Sudan gains economic benefits. She says people are fed up with being part of nonsensical ideological wars and only look for the good life.
The Sudanese economy is struggling under the impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and a budget deficit of 1.6 billion dollars.
Last month, Israel and the UAE sent a $5 million shipment of wheat to Sudan and said they looked forward to helping their new friend.