East Africa: Israeli Prime Minister Meets with Sudanese, Ugandan Officials in Entebbe

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni held talks in Uganda on February 3, 2020.

WASHINTON - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the leader of Sudan's transitional government Monday as part of an effort to begin to normalize ties wth the African nation. Netanyahu and Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan held their talks in Entebbe, Uganda.

“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries. History!” Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew after his meeting, which was not previously made public.

Netanyahu’s meeting with Gen. Burhan, according to Netanyahu’s office, came at the invitation of Uganda. It said Netanyahu “believes that Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction, and the prime minister expressed his views to the U.S. Secretary of State.”

Sudan has a civilian-led transitional government that has been trying to overcome political and economic challenges after decades under the former government of Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled last April after months of popular protests. Sudan is also trying to get off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

While in Uganda, Netanyahu also met with host President Yoweri Museveni. The trip to Uganda was Netanyahu's fifth in just over three years. Netanyahu's brother, Yonathan died in Uganda in 1976 during a hostage rescue at Entebbe airport.

“There are two things we very much want to achieve,” Netanyahu said to Museveni at a joint press conference. “One is direct flight from Israel to Uganda. And second … you open an embassy in Jerusalem, I’ll open an embassy in Kampala.”

“We are studying that,” Museveni replied.
Most embassies in Israel are in Tel Aviv because their countries view the final status of Jerusalem as an issue that should be negotiated with the Palestinians; however, U.S. President Donald Trump, in December 2017, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later relocated the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, upsetting the Palestinians.
Last week, Trump announced his Middle East peace initiative with Netanyahu standing by his side. Palestinians have rejected the plan.

Israel has continued its plan for strengthening links with African countries as it currently has diplomatic relations with 39 of the 47 sub-Saharan African states.

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