US state secretary Mike Pompeo leaves Israel on historic direct flight to Sudan

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
PHOTO: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Tel Aviv – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday left Israel for Sudan, the next stop on his regional tour, on the first official direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum.

Video released by the US embassy in Jerusalem showed an official greeting Pompeo as he walked onto the plane, saying "You are now on a historic flight", and the top US diplomat nodding in agreement.

Israel and Sudan do not have diplomatic relations and, barring a last-minute route change, it would be the first such non-stop flight, US officials said.

Israel has regular commercial flights to Egypt, Sudan's northern neighbour, with which it signed a peace agreement in 1979.

Pompeo's trip, also taking in Bahrain and the UAE, comes in the wake of the 13 August announcement of a US-brokered normalisation of relations between the Emirates and the Jewish state.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, both Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that they were hopeful other Arab states would follow suit.

Israel is also technically at war with Sudan, which for years had supported hardline Islamist forces, but which is turning its back on the era of strongman Omar al-Bashir who was ousted last year.

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