- The Washington Times - Friday, October 23, 2020

The Trump administration on Friday announced that Sudan has agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, marking a major step towards peace in the Middle East.

Sudan is the third majority-Muslim nation to sign on to the Abraham Accords, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, that formalizes diplomatic relations with Israel.

“HUGE win today for the United States and for peace in the world. Sudan has agreed to a peace and normalization agreement with Israel!” President Trump tweeted.

“With the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, that’s THREE Arab countries to have done so in only a matter of weeks. More will follow!”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere earlier said that the agreement marks “another major step toward building peace in the Middle East with another nation joining the Abraham Accords.”

Under the agreement, signed last month and the first of its kind in more than a generation, the countries agreed to exchange ambassadors and agreed to cooperate on a broad range of trade, education and health care issues. Israel also agreed to suspend its annexation of territory in the West Bank for an undisclosed period.

During an event in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump did not specify whether the latest deal constitutes a full normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and Sudan. It also remains unclear whether Sudan is formally joining the Abraham Accords.

Mr. Trump explained that as part of the latest agreement, “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.”

He said that the U.S. and Israel committed to working with partners to “support the people of Sudan in strengthening their democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into their economic potential.”

The two countries also agreed to begin economic and trade relations and vowed to meet “in the coming weeks” to negotiate further agreements.

“This move will improve regional security and unlock new opportunities for the people of Sudan, Israel, the Middle East, and Africa,” Mr. Trump said.

Following Sudan’s agreement to normalize relations with Israel, the Trump administration agreed to remove the country from the list of state sponsored terrorism.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdook welcomed the development and thanked Mr. Trump “for signing today the executive order to remove Sudan” from the list.

Mr. Trump spoke with the Sudanese leader over the phone, who said his country’s removal from the list would have a significant positive economic impact.

Sudan has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 when the U.S. government believed the Sudanese government was supporting militia groups. Activists and human rights organizations have since lobbied for the country to be removed from the list amid ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation.

North Korea, Iran and Syria are the other three countries on the U.S. State Department’s official list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“We’re working closely with the US Administration & Congress to conclude the SSTL removal process in a timely manner,” Mr. Hamdook tweeted. “We work towards int’l relations that best serve our people.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that through the agreement, the countries are “expanding their circle of peace so rapidly.”

Mr. Trump hinted that more countries could soon sign onto the accord as well.

“There are many, many more coming,” he said. “This is one where there’s no blood in the sand.”

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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