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Archbishop of Canterbury in Sudan for rare visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrived in Khartoum on Sunday for a rare visit to Sudan. He will inaugurate the Anglican Church of Sudan and hold talks with Sudanese officials, including President Omar al-Bashir, during his four-day visit.

Until now, the Anglican church in Sudan has been administrated from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011.

Archbishop Welby is also expected to visit Kadugli, one of five dioceses in Sudan, where there has been violent conflict.

In a statement, Sudan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs welcomed Welby’s visit, saying it reflects tolerance and religious freedoms in the country. The archbishop is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom and address both Christian and Muslim groups during his stay in Sudan.

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Sudan, a Muslim-majority country,  has been accused of oppressing Christians with several leaders arrested on charges of espionage. Sudanese authorities have repeatedly refused to give permits for building any new churches in the country.

Sudan is currently number five on the Open Doors world watch list of countries where persecution is most severe.