Sudan 'open' to study normalising ties with Israel - minister

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour made the momentous suggestion on January 14, 2015 that his country would not mind a discussion about ties with arch-foe Israel. PHOTO | AFP 

Sudan is open to discuss normalising ties with Israel despite decades of hostile relations, the country's minister for foreign affairs Ibrahim Ghandour has suggested.

The minister was speaking at a public symposium in Khartoum last Thursday where he said the Sudanese government would not mind studying any suggestions about normalising ties with the Jewish state.

The two countries have never had diplomatic relations since Sudan got independence from Britain in 1956. Were ties to be opened, Sudan would join Egypt as the only Arab countries with formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

Answering a question at the Thursday symposium about an American pre-condition to lift sanctions on Khartoum by normalising ties with Israel, Mr Ghandour said: ''We don't mind to study any such proposal''.

He however added that relations with the US were separate from relations with Israel and any other country.

No other Sudanese official has ever broached the topic of having ties with Israel.

Israel did not immediately react to the Sudanese minister's statement.

Iranian angle

A hot controversy erupted last November when a proposal on normalising relations with Israel was raised within the Foreign Relations Committee of the ongoing National Dialogue instituted by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The proposal was floated by the little-known Independent party whose idea was to have such relations be factored to serve Sudan's interests.

He argued that there was no justification for hostility towards Israel, pointing out that this stance took a toll on the country politically and economically.

Israel and Sudan have exchanged accusations of rebel support and proxy wars.

Israel is believed to have bombed many Sudanese military and civil installations, accusing Sudan of supporting the Iranian regime which the Jewish state is vehemently opposed to.

Khartoum broke diplomatic ties with Iran recently after Tehran got into a major tiff with Saudi Arabia.

Israel has also accused Sudan of sheltering radical Islamist groups with an anti-Jewish agenda.

On its part, Sudan accuses Israel of fighting proxy wars against it using Sudanese rebels.

Sudan does not recognise the Jewish state at all. Nor does the country's constitution allow for any kind of ties with Israel.

Official documents contain a phrase about "dealing with all countries except for the state of Israel." 

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