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Qatar to provide $1 bln aid to Sudan Omar Bashir gives warm welcome to Sheikh Tamim

 KHARTOUM, April 2, (Agencies): Energy-rich Qatar will provide cash-strapped Sudan with $1 billion to help boost its reserves of hard currency, Khartoum’s finance minister said on Wednesday. “It will help the Central Bank to increase its reserves,” Finance Minister Badraldin Mahmoud Abbas told reporters following talks between Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and President Omar al- Bashir in Khartoum. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed but Abbas said this is the second instalment of $2 billion which the Gulf state said it would provide last year. “Now they agreed to pay the second part of this,” he said. South Sudan separated in 2011, taking with it the majority of Sudan’s oil production, which accounted for billions of dollars in export earnings. Since then the Sudanese pound has plunged in value on the black market and inflation has soared.

Qatar’s Amir held talks in Sudan on Wednesday at a time of strained ties with his country’s Gulf neighbours over its perceived support for the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. The leaders held talks at a conference centre along the Blue Nile before Sheikh Tamim left Khartoum after a visit of around three hours. His stop coincided with unprecedented tensions between Doha and other Gulf states over the widely-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The Sudanese regime, which took power 25 years ago in an Islamist-backed coup, is essentially based on support from the Brotherhood, said Safwat Fanous, a political scientist at the University of Khartoum. He told AFP that the emir’s visit appears aimed to “break the isolation” of Qatar from its Gulf neighbours and Egypt. Sheikh Tamim, in a written statement, said his trip would confirm the “continuous joint consultations” between the two countries on regional developments.

The visit also aimed to support “brotherly relations” between people of both nations, he said. Qatar has been a key backer of Sudan’s government, which is “in desperate need of foreign direct investment”, said Khalid Tigani, chief editor of the Elaff economic weekly. After the emir’s departure, Sudan’s Finance Minister Badraldin Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that Qatar will provide Sudan with $1 billion to help boost its reserves of hard currency.

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