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General Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, head of the Sudanese Transitional Military Council. Image Credit: AP

Khartoum: The head of Sudan’s ruling council on Tuesday cast doubt on any rapid normalisation of ties with Israel a day after meeting the Israeli prime minister in Uganda, saying that his country’s position on the Palestinian issue remains unchanged.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan also said in a statement the relationship between Sudan and Israel was “the responsibility of the concerned institutions”, in an apparent reference to Sudan’s civilian cabinet.

The cabinet said on Monday it had not been informed in advance about the Uganda meeting, news of which sparked protests in Khartoum.

Burhan is the most senior figure in the first phase of a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilian parties in Sudan that began last August, following the overthrow of long-time Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir.

A joint meeting between the sovereign council and cabinet on Tuesday also agreed that any step related to relations with Israel should be discussed and approved by cabinet, sources who attended the meeting told Reuters.

Burhan said later that Khartoum’s position towards the Palestinian issue and the right of Palestinians to set up their independent state “remained and will remain firm”.

Bilateral relations between Sudan and Israel have never been normalised, and doing so would likely raise hackles in Sudan and the wider Arab world, especially at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promoting a U.S. peace plan rejected by Palestinians.

But Sudan is also anxious to rebuild links with the outside world after decades of isolation under Islamist Bashir, and to be removed from a U.S. list of countries considered state sponsors of terrorism.

Sudan’s cabinet on Tuesday discussed Burhan and Netanyahu’s meeting, which Israeli officials said lasted two hours in the city of Entebbe in central Uganda.

It also held consultations with leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC), an alliance that fronted protests that toppled Omar al-Bashir last year, sources said.

FCC leaders also held discussions with the sovereign council, the sources added.