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Russia's Lavrov backs Sudan bid to lift UN sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sudan's acting foreign minister, Ali al-Sadiq, hold a joint press conference at the airport in Khartoum on February 9, 2023   -  
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Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov held talks in Khartoum Thursday with Sudanese officials, pledging support for their call to lift long-standing UN sanctions on the African nation.

Lavrov's two-day visit is part of Russian efforts to shore up influence on the African continent amid broad international attempts to isolate Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine last year.

"We stand with the Sudanese side in its endeavour to lift the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council," Lavrov told a press conference, standing alongside Khartoum's acting foreign minister Ali al-Sadiq.

Sadiq emphasised the need for the two countries to cooperate at the United Nations and to push "for reform... in the Security Council".

Sudan has recently repeated calls for Security Council to lift sanctions and an arms embargo imposed during conflict in the country's Darfur region in 2005.

Lavrov also held talks Thursday with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who in October 2021 led a military coup that derailed Sudan's transition to civilian rule and triggered cuts to crucial Western aid.

His arrival in Sudan late Wednesday marked the latest stop in a tour that has included Mali and Mauritania. Last month, Lavrov visited Eritrea, Angola, Eswatini and South Africa.

The Russian diplomat also met with Burhan's deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Sudan and Russia have been "cooperating in the fields of economy and investment", Lavrov said, hailing Sudanese efforts "to attract Russian investments".

Counterpart Sadiq said Sudan would take part in a Moscow-Africa forum slated to take place in Russia in July.

Sudan relied militarily on Russia under strongman Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019 following three decades in power marked by international isolation and crippling US sanctions.

Its military leaders who toppled Bashir maintained ties with Moscow while a transitional government sought to repair relations with the United States and the West.

Earlier this week, special envoys and representatives including from the United States, Norway, Britain, Germany and France arrived in Sudan.

US ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey said Wednesday on Twitter that the representatives came "to support" a December deal signed between Sudan's military leaders and civilian factions.

Washington delisted Sudan as a state sponsor of terror in December 2020, and last year appointed its first ambassador to Khartoum in nearly 25 years.

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