Al-Burhan says Sudan, Qatar to reactivate agreements

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Talks in Doha between head of Sudan’s ruling council and Qatari officials centred on reviewing bilateral relations and talks on regional issues.

On his first visit to Doha as the head of Sudan’s ruling council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has said his country and Qatar had agreed to reactivate several bilateral agreements.

Al-Burhan arrived in the Qatari capital on Wednesday to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including trade and regional issues. It was his first trip to the Gulf state since former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed by the military in April 2019. Some arrangements between the two countries had been suspended after the fall al-Bashir’s government.

On Thursday, al-Burhan met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the Amiri Diwan, the emir’s office, and held separate talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani at the Sheraton Doha Hotel.

“We have more than 36 agreements and protocols signed between both countries,” al-Burhan told reporters afterwards. “We agreed to activate these agreements next week or the week after the Qatari delegation will visit Sudan,” added al-Burhan, who heads transitional sovereign council that is tasked with leading the country to elections late next year.

“This will be from the government and businessmen. We have our mechanisms to support this path.”

The leaders discuss a range of issues, including trade and regional developments [Qatar News Agency/AFP]

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Doha, said there seemed to be an appetite for both countries to strengthen their ties.

“Qatar currently has … about $3.8bn worth of investments [in Sudan], and there is certainly a desire from the Sudanese government to try to increase that in the coming weeks,” she said.

Jabbari said al-Burhan was asked about a number of other issues, including Sudan’s relationship with Israel after the normalisation of ties between the two in October 2020.

“He said Israel’s issues with Sudan is entirely an internal matter and that he will not comment on it,” Jabbari said.

Dam crisis

Al-Burhan also touched upon the continuing dispute between Ethiopia and downstream neighbours Sudan and Egypt over a massive dam built by the former on the Blue Nile, describing it as one of his most pressing concerns.

“The Renaissance Dam is a problem. Talks and negotiations have been done for a long time. We had dialogues and we had meetings with Ethiopia and Egypt …  But all these mediations haven’t reached yet a real solution,” al-Burhan said.

His comments came two days after the latest round of negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – held this week in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current chair of the African Union (AU) – concluded with no resolution to long-running differences about the operation and filling of the dam’s reservoir.

A major sticking point that the parties failed to resolve centered on the role of mediators in the dispute.

Egypt and Sudan want the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations – in addition to the AU – to play a role in overseeing the negotiations. Ethiopia has rejected the demand and wants the talks to be led solely by the African bloc.

“I am telling our brothers in Ethiopia, let’s not reach the point where you touch a drop of Egypt’s water, because all options are open,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Wednesday. “We have witnessed the cost of any confrontation,” he added, referring to past regional conflicts.

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas said all options are open to Khartoum, in accordance with international law, to deal with the dispute. Abbas stressed the failure to reach a fair agreement on the dam threatens regional security and peace.

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