Sudan became the latest country to sign the ‘Abraham Accords’ with the US on Wednesday as it agreed to normalise relations with Israel.
A statement from the office of Sudan’s prime minister said Justice Minister, Nasredeen Abdulbari, signed the accord in Khartoum with visiting US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin.
Last month the Trump administration finalised the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which was a key incentive to the country signing up to the US-engineered deals to normalise ties with Israel.
“This is a very, very significant agreement… It would have a tremendous impact on the people of Israel and the people of Sudan as they continue to work together on cultural and economic opportunities and trade,” Mr Mnuchin was quoted as saying on the state-run SUNA news agency.
The Treasury secretary also signed a memorandum of understanding that the US would provide a bridge loan to facilitate the payment of Sudan’s $1.2 billion debt to the World Bank, once the “agreed conditions” are met.
Paying off the arrears will allow Sudan to unlock $1 billion a year from the World Bank – a sum that it hasn’t been able to receive for almost three decades, since it was put on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The north African country agreed to put $335 million in an escrow account to compensate US victims of terrorism before the Trump administration announced their intention to remove them from the list.
The main incident was the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania while al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan.
Cash-strapped Sudan has racked up more than $60 billion in foreign debt and in recent months inflation has soared past 200%. Unlocking the World Bank money is widely seen as a key step to recovery.
The deal to start normalising relations with Israel, which US President Trump first announced in October was met with opposition by Sudanese political parties.
The Abraham accords have been criticised in Palestine for eroding a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only be given in return for concessions in the peace process.
Sudan normalises relations with Israel in return for help accessing World Bank funds The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Telegraph.