Sudan’s leader says Israel has key role in removing his nation from US blacklist

The head of Sudan’s transitional government has said Israel has an important role in removing the country from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terror, according to a report in an Arab newspaper.

Speaking to London-based pan-Arabic publication Asharq al-Awsat, Sudan’s Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan cited that fact as justification for his controversial, unprecedented meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda earlier this month.

Sudan, a predominantly Muslim nation, does not have official relations with Israel, but after their meeting, Netanyahu said the two had agreed to move towards normalizing ties.

Burhan had denied this, but in Friday’s interview appeared to confirm it, saying such a move was “within the framework of Sudan’s efforts for its national and security interests.”

He said a committee would be formed to discuss advancing relations, and claimed there was widespread support for normalization in the country. and that only “limited ideological groups” opposed it.

The surprise meeting stirred controversy in Sudan, with the government saying it wasn’t notified ahead of time and critics lambasting the talks on social media. The military spoke out in support of them.