Russia, Sudan renew military cooperation

MOSCOW - Sudan's Defense Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov, called Monday for renewing their countries' Soviet-era partnership in the military-technical sphere.

"We will do all we can do that our military and military-technical ties progress in the interests of our states," Ivanov told Saleh as he opened their talks in Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency.

Saleh noted that military ties between Sudan and the Soviet Union developed intensely in the 1960s, and many Sudanese officers speak Russian and are familiar with Russian hardware.

After the talks, Ivanov told reporters that the two countries are drafting an agreement on military-technical cooperation. Saleh said his country would buy new weapons from Russia and allow Russia to modernize its Soviet-era weapons.

Saleh said Sudanese President Lt. Gen. Omar el-Bashir would soon visit Russia. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman came to Moscow in November.

Ivanov defended Russia's right to trade with Sudan, which is on the U.S. State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

"Sudan is not under any sanctions, and we have the right to develop neighborly relations with it," he said, according to Interfax.

In September, the U.N. Security Council lifted sanctions against Sudan, saying it was satisfied with progress in the country. Washington has maintained its own sanctions, but relations with Washington improved after Sudan pledged support for the war in Afghanistan. Sudan ordered terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden out of the country in 1996.

Saleh was also scheduled to meet with the leadership of the Rosoboronexport state arms export company and the MiG aircraft maker during the five-day visit, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

With MiG and Rosoboronexport, Saleh was expected to discuss deliveries of Russian aircraft and spare parts for Soviet- and Russian-made weapons used by the Sudanese military, ITAR-Tass said.