March 7, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to attend the end of the joint military drills “North’s Thunder”, said government sources.
- Sudanese troops participating in the ’North Thunder’ military drill with troops from 20 nations in Saudi Arabia on 16 February 2016 (Photo Saudi Press Agency)
On February 29, armed forces from 20 Arab and Muslim nations have begun military manoeuvres at the King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in Hafr Al-Batin in north-eastern Saudi Arabia.
The military exercise comes within the framework of the Saudi-led alliance to fight terrorism in Islamic countries.
A government source told Sudan Tribune that Bashir, who is currently taking part in the 5th extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jakarta, will return to Khartoum at dawn on Tuesday aboard a Saudi aircraft.
The official source said the Chadian President Idriss Deby will arrive in Khartoum on Tuesday afternoon in an official one-day visit to hold talks with Bashir, saying both presidents would leave separately for Riyadh on Wednesday to watch the end of the manoeuvres in the presence of the Saudi King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, emphasized that Bashir left for Jakarta aboard a Saudi plane, saying the Sudanese presidential aircraft is currently under maintenance and that is why Riyadh sent the plane.
Bashir travelled to Jakarta on Saturday despite an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued in Mars 2009. In April last year he cancelled at the last minute his trip to Jakarta for an Asia-Africa summit.
Sudan’s foreign relations have witnessed a remarkable shift since last fall particularly in its rapprochement with the Arab Gulf states following years of chilly ties.
The east African nation participates with over 850 troops in the Saudi-led “Decisive Storm” against the Iranian-allied Houthi militants in Yemen.
The Sudanese military participation in the military campaign in Yemen and the Islamic alliance reconciled Bashir’s regime with the Saudi government, and marked the divorce with Iran.
Following the visit of the Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir to Khartoum late last month, multiple sources said that Saudi Arabia has granted five billion dollar military assistance to Sudan initially dedicated to the Lebanese army.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s ambassador to N’djamena Abdel-Aziz Hassan Salih told Sudan Tribune that Deby’s delegation to Khartoum would include foreign and trade ministers besides several experts from the transportation ministry.
He pointed the two presidents would discuss bilateral cooperation as well as regional and international issues, adding that Deby would thank Bashir and the Sudanese people for sending a medical aid convoy to his country.
Salih noted that the Chadian trade minister Gidi Bishara would stay in Sudan following Deby’s departure to hold talks with his Sudanese counterpart and to visit the area designated for Chad’s imports at the sea port of Port Sudan.
The Sudanese diplomat added that the Chadian transportation experts will discuss with their Sudanese counterparts the proposed railway project that would transport goods from Port Sudan to N’djamena.
He commended the evolving relationship between the two countries, saying that Sudan praises Deby’s election as the African Union chairman.
In January 2010, Sudan and Chad signed a normalization agreement ending a long history of mutual hostility in which both sides provided support to each other’s insurgents.