Hemedti says Sudan should be open to naval base accord with Russia, or others

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By Reuters

Sudan’s deputy head of state said on Wednesday his country had no problem with Russia or any other country opening a naval base on its Red Sea coast, provided it posed no threat to national security.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, deputy head of Sudan’s sovereign council, was speaking on arrival in Khartoum following a trip to Moscow that began on Feb. 23, the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have 730 kilometres along the Red Sea. If any country wants to open a base and it is in our interests and doesn’t threaten our national security we have no problem in dealing with anyone, Russian or otherwise,” he said, emphasising the base was under the purview of the defence minister.

An agreement to host a Russian naval base was reached under former President Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019, and military leaders have said it remains under review.

Moscow has long sought warm water ports for its navy. President Vladimir Putin published a decree in November 2020 saying he had approved a Russian government proposal to set up a naval logistics hub in Sudan.

Dagalo’s visit to Moscow, where he led a delegation of economic sector ministers, comes at a time when Sudan needs an economic bailout after it was cut off from Western assistance following an October coup. Dagalo said Russian investments were discussed on the trip, but did not give specifics.

He emphasized Sudan’s official position backing a diplomatic solution to the fighting in Ukraine. Before the invasion, Dagalo had said Russia had the right to defend its people.

Dagalo also called for an end to the protests that have continued in Sudan since the coup, and called for national consensus on a path forward towards elections.