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Russian FM says Moscow plans to boost military ties with Sudan

December 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The visiting Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced that his country has “clear plans” to activate military-technical cooperation with Sudan without disrupting the balance of power in the region.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (R) meets with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (l) for bilateral talks at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 3, 2014 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Lavrov arrived early on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to participate in the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press statement that the visit will “reaffirm our resolve to facilitate the completion of inter-Sudan settlement on the relevant international-legal basis and stable normalization in Darfur under the peace treaty signed in Doha in May 2011”.

“Sudan is Russia’s long-term partner in Africa and the Arab world. Our countries are linked by traditional relations of friendship and mutual respect, versatile long-standing cooperation that accommodates each other’s interests. We are interested in stable and steadily developing Sudan and we want it to play an active and positive role in international and regional affairs,” the statement added.

The Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir discussed with the Russian Foreign Minister ways to strengthen bilateral relations and also discussed a number of domestic, regional and international issues of common concern.

Bashir stressed during the meeting Sudan’s solidarity with Russia in the face of unilateral sanctions imposed by some western countries over the Ukrainian crisis, which he noted that Sudan also suffers from.

For his part, Lavrov conveyed to Bashir the greetings of Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing his country’s keenness to develop its relations with Sudan and support its causes.

The Sudanese and Russian delegations held a joint session of talks at the Friendship Hall on Wednesday morning on the sidelines of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum headed by the two foreign ministers.

The talks dealt with Sudanese-Russian cooperation in the political, economic, developmental, humanitarian and technical fields and the subject of Russian companies operating in Sudan and other corporations that have a desire to invest in the country.

The discussions also tackled a number of regional and international issues, particularly the conference for Libya’s neighboring countries to be held in Khartoum on Thursday and the situation in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) and the status of the joint mission of the United Nations and the African Union (UNAMID) in Darfur.

Karti said that the two sides discussed the UNAMID status and they reached a common understanding in this regard, stressing Russia’s support for Sudan’s position.

Relations between the hybrid operation in Darfur and the Sudanese government have worsened after reports accusing the Sudanese army of mass rape in North Darfur earlier in November.

The Sudanese authorities denied the allegations of sexual abuse and accused the mission of echoing unverified media reports before to investigate it. Khartoum also summoned the acting head of the mission following a report saying that the heavy presence of military and police made a conclusive investigation difficult.

Bashir said last week that UNAMID has become a security burden and called on the peacekeepers to leave the country.

“We want a clear plan for the exit of UNAMID from Darfur,” Bashir said in a press conference held on Sunday, adding “We have instructed the foreign ministry to work with the United Nations to end the presence of UNAMID in Darfur.”

Karti pointed out that the subject of oil was a major topic addressed by the two sides, especially as Russia has extensive experience in this field adding that "there are Russian companies looking for a partnership in the field of oil and we welcome them".

The two sides also discussed the Russian Sudanese ministerial committee to be held in Moscow next week, and the meeting of Russian-Sudanese Businessmen Council and facilitation of money transfers to banks between Sudan and Russia.

The Sudanese ministers of finance, minerals and the Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan participated in the talks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that this is the first visit of a Russian foreign minister to Sudan after the separation of South Sudan in 2011.

It stressed that Moscow “is paying much attention to the consolidation of mechanisms of collective cooperation with the Arab League as an influential pan-Arab organization”.

“The forthcoming meeting will create one more opportunity to check the positions of more urgent international and regional issues and coordinate steps for promoting the entire complex of Russian –Arab cooperation in the multilateral format” the foreign ministry said.