Conflict in North Africa: US Secretary of State: 72-hour ceasefire in Sudan agreed

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised a ceasefire in Sudan.

Conflict in North Africa: US Secretary of State: 72-hour ceasefire in Sudan agreed

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised a ceasefire in Sudan. Blinken said in a written statement that after intensive negotiations, the Sudanese armed forces and their rival paramilitary units (Rapid Support Forces) had agreed to observe a nationwide ceasefire for 72 hours from midnight. The US government urges both sides to fully comply with this agreement. The parties to the conflict had previously made similar announcements, but the ceasefire was not observed.

Blinken said the US would coordinate with regional and international partners and Sudanese actors to work towards a permanent end to the fighting. A committee should be set up to oversee negotiations on an end to the fighting, their conclusion and implementation.

More heavy fighting

Khartoum was shaken by heavy fighting for the tenth day in a row on Monday. The media and eyewitnesses on Twitter reported army airstrikes in the city of Omdurman, which borders Khartoum to the north, and in the suburb of Kalakla. According to matching videos and reports, several houses have collapsed in Kalakla. Local residents searched for buried people and victims. There were also reports of further fighting in the West Darfur region.

US government is considering options for a diplomatic presence

Meanwhile, following the temporary closure of the US embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the US government is exploring other options for a diplomatic presence in the country. "We are examining options for re-establishing a diplomatic and consular presence in Sudan as soon as possible," said Blinken. "The conditions are very, very difficult." He could therefore not give any timetable.

In view of the heavy fighting in Sudan, the USA withdrew its government employees from the country at the weekend and closed the US embassy in Khartoum indefinitely.

Blinken said such a decision is one of the most difficult for a foreign minister. "But my number one priority is the safety of our people." Despite the embassy evacuation, the US government is continuing its diplomatic and consular work in Sudan through other channels, Blinken said. One is in contact with American companies and citizens with a view to support and possible departure.

The US military is monitoring land routes out of Sudan that could potentially be used to flee, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said. The US Navy is also positioning ships off the coast of Sudan to assist US citizens fleeing if necessary.

Israel wants to host negotiations between parties

Meanwhile, Israel has brought itself into play as a mediator in the conflict in Sudan. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has offered to host negotiations in Israel to end the violence in the African country, a ministry spokesman said. "If there is a way that Israel can help end the war and violence in the country, we would be very happy to do so," said Secretary of State Eli Cohen.

According to the ministry, Israel is already in contact with high-ranking representatives of both sides in Sudan and is trying to bring about negotiations. Progress of the talks in the last few days had been "promising", it said.

Israel has been trying for years to normalize its relations with Sudan. In February, during a visit by Cohen to Khartoum, both countries agreed on the text of a corresponding agreement. It should be signed before the end of this year - as soon as "a civilian government has been installed in Sudan," it said at the time. Cohen has now announced that he hopes that the situation will calm down and the agreement will be signed.

Heavy fighting broke out in Sudan more than a week ago between the country's two most powerful generals and their units. The two men have led the country in northeast Africa with around 46 million inhabitants since two joint military coups in 2019 and 2021. De facto President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is also the commander-in-chief of the army, is fighting with the military against his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo , the leader of the powerful paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Actually, the RSF should have been subordinate to the army and power in the country should have been returned to a civilian government.