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Sudan Agrees To Normalize Ties With Israel in U.S.-Brokered Deal


President Trump says he's brokered another deal that helps Israel in its bid for diplomatic recognition in the Arab world. Sudan becomes the third recent country to agree to normalize ties with Israel. It only did so after the U.S. agreed to take Sudan off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: It was a made-for-TV diplomatic announcement. When pool reporters entered the Oval Office, President Trump was surrounded by his aides and still on speaker phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel. It quickly turned political.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe?

KELEMEN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credits Trump for making history but tried to walk a fine line about Joe Biden.


PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America, and we appreciate what you've done enormously.

TRUMP: Yeah.

KELEMEN: There were a lot of transactions to get to this point. The U.S. is taking Sudan off a terrorism blacklist to allow it to get more aid and debt relief. Sudan, once home to Osama bin Laden, transferred $335 million to settle claims of some of the victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Palestinians have asked Arab countries not to make deals with Israel until they reach a statehood agreement. But Trump expects more Arab countries to join.


TRUMP: And then, ultimately, we're going to have a big reunion at the end, where everybody's here and everybody's going to be signed. And we expect that Saudi Arabia will be one of those countries.

KELEMEN: Arab countries have been quietly working with Israel to counter Iran. In one other transaction related to this, Israel has dropped its opposition to U.S. plans to sell fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.