Israeli media is reporting that a senior Israeli diplomat met with Sudanese officials in a secret meeting in Istanbul as part of efforts to renew ties between the two countries and even establish full diplomatic relations.
The meeting took place around a year ago between a special Israeli Foreign Ministry envoy and a team of senior representatives from Sudan, including then-intelligence chief Mohamed Atta, Channel 10 news reported.
The report comes after Chadian leader Idriss Déby made a visit to Israel this week and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will soon fly to N’Djamena to announce the resumption of full diplomatic ties with the Muslim-majority country.
A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 that Déby’s visit was laying the groundwork for normalising ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger.
This comes as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are all moving closer to Tel Aviv.
Sudan has in recent years come under the influence of Saudi Arabia and has made an effort to mend strained ties with the United States. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalising ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. And according to media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.
In 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.
Netanyahu said that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.
Meanwhile, Sudan has denied the report.
“This information is false and fabricated,” Information Minister and government spokesman Bushara Gomaa told reporters on Wednesday. “We have deep and ongoing political, ideological and religious disputes with Israel,” he said.
A Sudanese party official earlier denied Israeli media reports claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to visit Sudan soon.