A spokesman for the Sudanese Army yesterday said the invitation to attend US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Germany signals a step towards removing its name from the list of countries supporting terrorism and the lifting of economic sanctions.
Established in 2007, AFRICOM is responsible for US military operations and military relations with African armies.
"Sudan's participation [in the conference] is an indication of a transition from sanctions to cooperation on issues that Sudan has a moral obligation to join the fight; such as cross-border crimes, terrorism, illegal migration, support of negative movements, illegal arms trade and money laundering," said spokesman, Ahmed Khalifa Al-Shami, in a statement to Sudan Tribune.
On Sunday, the Sudanese army announced that the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Emad Al-Din Mustafa Adawi, had left Khartoum to attend the two-day conference in Stuttgart, Germany, from 18-20 April. Some 50 African chiefs of defence are invited to attend the gathering chaired by US Commander Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser.
We're very interested in listening to our African partners, including their concerns and what they would like to see more or less of from AFRICOM, and to give them an opportunity to come together and share their thoughts and ideas
said Waldhauser during a news briefing.
Sudan has not been included in AFRICOM because of its designation at a state sponsor of terrorism. Besides military cooperation with the African armies, Sudan will be expected to contribute troops to the command group to support the fight against terror groups in the region.
Commenting on the numbers of Sudanese troops that might join AFRICOM, spokesman Al-Shami said: "That is premature as the participation in this alliance would include training, planning and coordination as well as any particular tasks that may be entrusted to each country within its geographical context."
He added that Sudan would benefit from joining any military alliances and said his country's participation in the meeting came as a result of improved political consultation between Khartoum and Washington. Earlier this year, Sudan and the US reappointed military attachés in their respective diplomatic missions in Khartoum and Washington for the first time in 30 years.
In January 2017, former US President Barack Obama eased the 19-year economic and trade sanctions on Sudan. The change of policy came in response to the collaboration of the Sudanese government on various issues including the fight against terrorism.
The final decision to permanently lift sanctions against Sudan will be decided in June.