The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a two-day visit for talks with King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz, a newspaper reported on Monday.
- Abdul Hafiz Ibrahim, Sudan’s envoy in Riyadh, told London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Bashir’s trip to Saudi Arabia will bring about a “monumental leap” in supporting the process of cooperation between the two countries as well as promoting integration within the framework of the mutual interests of the two brotherly peoples.
He predicted that the talks will deal with the Sudan’s efforts to address the challenges faced by its economy as well as reviewing Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote bilateral cooperation within the joint committee as arrangements are underway for its fifth session in Khartoum early next May.
The Sudanese diplomat also said that he expects the talks to tackle the crisis in Yemen and Libya.
King Salman became the Saudi monarch after the death of his brother Abdullah earlier this year.
The new king is reportedly pushing indirectly for an alliance of Sunni Muslim states to counter emerging threats from Iran and Islamic State.
He has recently met with leaders of all five Gulf Arab states, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey to convey his desire for greater unity among these nations.
According to a report by Reuters this month, Riyadh’s bigger concern is Shiite Iran. Its fears about the rising influence of its main regional enemy have grown recently as Tehran’s Houthi allies seized swathes of Yemen and its commanders have aided Shiite militias fighting in Iraq.
Sudan’s relations with Saudi Arabia has been cool during late King Abdullah’s reign amid silent anger over Khartoum’s close ties with Tehran.
Sudan has regularly allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan across Saudi Arabia drawing concern by the United States and its allies in the Gulf.
The Sudanese leader has been unable to meet directly with King Abdullah since 2012 despite repeated visits for pilgrimage or regional events.
In August 2013, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to the plane carrying Bashir on his way to Iran where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of then president-elect Hassan Rouhani thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.
Saudi Arabia denied that the incident was politically motivated and insisted that Bashir’s plane did not seek prior clearance despite Sudanese insistence to the contrary.
But Khartoum may have decided to appease the Arab Gulf state by abruptly shutting down the Iranian cultural center late last year under the pretext of spreading Shiite doctrine.
Bashir has also sought to underscore in recent interviews that he has no links with the Muslim Brotherhood movement which is designated as a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.