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Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

A delegation of senior Sudanese officials, including the deputy leader of the country’s military-led ruling body, headed to Russia on Wednesday for talks on cooperation, authorities said.

Sudan has found itself increasingly isolated since an October 25 coup that has seen foreign aid cut as part of the international community’s response to the military takeover. The country had already been in the grip of a dire economic crisis before the coup and an ensuing deadly crackdown on protesters calling for a return to civilian rule.

The Sudanese delegation’s visit to Moscow fell “within the framework of exchanging views and discussing ways to develop and strengthen cooperation between Sudan and Russia,” the ruling Sovereign Council said. The delegation, which also includes Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim as well as senior energy and trade officials, would hold a series of talks with Russian counterparts during the visit, it said in a statement.

Sudan has been grappling with deepening unrest since the coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto leader since the 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Burhan chairs the Sovereign Council, which was reshuffled after the military takeover.

Sudan has been rocked by regular anti-coup protests that have been met by a crackdown that has killed at least 82 people and wounded hundreds, according to an independent group of doctors.

The October military takeover drew widespread international condemnation, including from the United Nations Security Council which described it as “very concerning”. But diplomats said the council had failed to issue a joint statement as Britain, which called for the meeting, did not even seek to secure one given Russia’s support for Burhan.

Moscow’s envoy said at the time that Burhan was needed to maintain stability in Sudan, according to one diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last year, Sudanese authorities said they were reviewing a deal negotiated under Bashir with Moscow for the construction of a naval base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast. Officials said at the time that some clauses had been found to be “somewhat harmful”. Burhan said recently however that the agreement had not been cancelled.

Sudan was militarily dependent on Russia for decades due to crippling sanctions imposed by Washington against Bashir’s government. But since his 2019 overthrow, Sudan has moved closer to the United States which removed Khartoum from its crippling blacklist in 2020.

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