Sudan top military officer visited Egypt on Tuesday and held talks with its leader, authorities said, in his first trip abroad since the country plunged into a bitter conflict this year.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the ruling Sovereign Council, arrived in the Mediterranean city of el-Alamein and was received at the airport by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the council said.
The two leaders discussed efforts to end the conflict in Sudan in a way that preserves “the sovereignty, integrity of Sudanese state,” an Egyptian statement said.
Speaking to al-Qahera News, al-Burhan said the armed forces seeks to hold free and fair elections and is not after ruling the country.
“We seek a democratic transition,” al-Burhan said, adding that army is facing “rebellious groups that committed war crimes to seize power.”
Sources told Al Arabiya that during the talks, al-Burhan and Sisi agreed on the importance of restricting weapons to the hands of the state and its military and security institutions.
“Talks also addressed combating terrorism, securing borders and [strengthening] coordination with neighboring countries to prevent the smuggling of weapons,” the sources said.
According to the sources, al-Burhan said the withdrawal of “militias and mercenaries from Sudanese cities” would mark the first step toward any long-term ceasefire.
Al-Burhan reportedly told Sisi that the armed forces is open to accepting a long-term ceasefire as long as “the other party fully commits to the conditions laid out and agreed upon.”
Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when simmering tensions between the military, led by al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere.
The conflict has turned the capital into an urban battlefield, with the RSF controling vast swaths of the city. The military command, where al-Burhan has purportedly been stationed since April, has been one of the epicenters of the conflict.
In his trip to Egypt, al-Burhan was accompanied by Acting Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq and Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Mufadel, head of the General Intelligence Authority, and other military officers.
Al-Burhan managed last week to leave the military headquarters. He visited military facilities in Khartoum sister city of Omdurman and elsewhere in the country. Al-Burhan traveled to Egypt from the coastal city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Despite months of fighting, neither side has managed to gain control of Khartoum or other key areas in the country. Last week, large explosions and plumes of black smoke could be seen above key areas of the capital, including near its airport.
Egypt has longstanding ties with the Sudanese army and its top generals. In July, al-Sisi hosted a meeting of Sudan neighbors and announced a plan for a cease-fire. A series of fragile truces, brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia, have failed to hold.
The fighting is estimated to have killed at least 4,000 people, according to the UN human rights office, though activists and doctors on the ground say the toll is likely far higher.
More than 4.6 million people have been displaced, according to the UN migration agency. Those include over 3.6 million who fled to safer areas inside Sudan and more than 1 million others who crossed into neighboring countries.
With The Associated Press