By Nike Ching
The United States and Egypt have had “a shared interest” in getting Sudan’s democratic transition back on track since the Sudanese military seized power in late October, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
On Monday, Blinken and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry opened the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue.
“The military takeover that began on October 25 has been dangerously destabilizing,” Blinken said. “Restoration of the civilian-led transitional government is the only path to facilitating the aspirations of the Sudanese people, who have demonstrated remarkable bravery in repeatedly coming out in demand for democracy,” he added.
Egypt, one of Sudan’s neighbors, is notably absent from a recent joint statement issued by the U.S., United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, calling for a “full and immediate restoration” of Sudan’s “civilian-led transitional government and institutions.”
The statement also encourages releasing all those detained since the coup and lifting the state of emergency in Sudan.
A report by The Wall Street Journal said that Sudanese military chief General Abdel-Fattah Burhan sought support from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt in a meeting a day before the military takeover and that el-Sissi reassured his fellow general.
Shoukry did not address last month’s Sudanese military takeover, nor did he answer questions from reporters during the opening remarks.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. will discuss the “ongoing efforts to restore the civilian-led transitional government and to prevent violence in Sudan” with Egyptian officials.
“I’m going to allow the Egyptians to characterize the nuance of their position, but certainly this will be a topic of discussion with our Egyptian counterparts,” Price said during Monday’s press briefing.
The Sudanese military has been facing international condemnation since it overthrew the transitional government in which it shared power with civilian leaders. The U.S. immediately froze $700 million in economic support after the military takeover.
The U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue on Monday is the first bilateral dialogue held between the two nations since 2015.
The State Department said top diplomats from the two countries exchanged views on international and regional issues, human rights and pathways to increased cooperation on economic, security and cultural issues. Blinken also expressed appreciation for Egypt’s role in supporting regional stability, including the de-escalation of tensions in Gaza.
After Blinken’s visit to Cairo in late May, the U.S. said it planned to engage in a “constructive” human rights dialogue with Egypt as rights groups and activists drew attention to the country’s human rights record.
On Monday, Shoukry said that Egypt would “continue to forge our path towards a modern democratic state” but that “equal attention” needed to be dedicated to “political rights and civil liberties and economic and social rights” as “orderly change” offered Egypt “the best chance to succeed.”
Egyptian authorities had argued that the definition of human rights was more about improving the quality of life for a majority of people rather than political space or political tolerance.