Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen on Monday made a historic visit to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, as the head of a joint delegation of the Ministry of Intelligence and the National Security Council, which was dispatched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, weeks after Sudan joined the Abraham Accords.
Cohen met with Sudanese President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim and other senior members of the Sudanese government.
The delegation, which returned to Israel just before the closure of Ben Gurion Airport, included heads of divisions in the Ministry of Intelligence and the National Security Council and officials from other government ministries who came for working meetings with their Sudanese counterparts.
The talks dealt with a variety of diplomatic, security and economic issues, and for the first time, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on these issues between the Sudanese Minister of Defense and the Minister of Intelligence.
The parties “discussed the regional security stability that is essential for economic development and the parties will deepen intelligence cooperation,” a statement by the Israeli government said.
The possibility also arose of Israel joining the Red Sea Council, in which Egypt and Saudi Arabia are members.
The Council, established by Saudi Arabia in May 2020, includes eight Arab and African countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Council if focused on developing cooperation between the countries bordering the Red Sea to bolster the security and stability of the region.
In the economic field, the members of the Israeli delegation raised a number of potential joint economic projects, with an emphasis on water, agriculture, renewable energy, health and aviation.
The collaboration focused on the possibility of Israeli companies establishing infrastructure projects, including desalination facilities and renewable energy, training mainly in the fields of agriculture, and promoting business delegations of Israeli companies to develop these fields.
The Sudanese also discussed their progress on repealing the country’s boycott law against Israel and amending the law imposing imprisonment on Sudanese immigrants, including those in Israel, who return to Sudan.
An agreement was also reached for a delegation from Sudan to visit Israel, as well as business delegations that will promote investment and trade between the two countries.
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen stated that he is “confident that this visit laid the foundations for many important collaborations, which will help both Israel and Sudan, and security stability in the region, and deepen our ties with Africa and lead to further agreements with countries in the region.”
“The short geographical distance between the countries increases the security importance of the agreement and the economic potential,” he added.
Sudan is the third-largest country in Africa with about 40 million citizens and is strategically located on the shores of the Red Sea. Sudan has previously fought alongside Arab states against Israel and has helped transfer weapons to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip from Iran.
“Relations with Sudan put an end to 70 years of hostility,” the statement noted.
Sudan signed the Abraham Accords earlier this month after Israel and Sudan announced the normalization of ties in October 2020.
The establishment of formal relations between the countries has great potential for both in a variety of areas including security, economy, energy, agriculture and water.
Israel’s peace with Sudan was announced just over a month after Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed a historic peace agreement at the White House on September 15, the first agreement to be signed between Israel and an Arab country in 25 years.
The UAE was the first major Arab state to recognize Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed in October 1994.
Announced on August 13, the Abraham Accords is the first between a Gulf state and Israel and is expected to lead to similar agreements with other Arab countries, possibly Oman or Saudi Arabia.
Morocco joined the Abraham Accords in December.