Ambassador Siri Walt, head of the Africa Division of the FDFA, led a delegation to Khartoum for political consultations and bilateral meetings from 13 to 14 June 2021. Rrepresentatives of the State Secretariat of the FDFA, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the State Secretariat for Migration and the Swiss embassy in Khartoum attended the meetings. This was the second round of political talks with Sudan. The first round took place in Bern in 2018, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2017.
The strengthening of bilateral cooperation is an expression of the new dynamic in relations between the two countries since the long-time President Omar al-Bashir was ousted. The purpose of the political talks was to explore ways in which Switzerland can effectively support the democratic transition in Sudan.
Strengthening of international cooperation
Switzerland has a great interest in ensuring that the political transition to a democratic and stable Sudan involves all stakeholders and opens up new prospects for young people in particular. Accordingly, it will support Sudan with various foreign policy instruments and with a Whole of Government approach. During the political talks, the Swiss delegation announced that Switzerland would be increasing its peacebuilding-related funding and staff presence. This is also in keeping with the Federal Council's Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24.
Switzerland will also step up its multilateral engagement. It made an early contribution to the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) to promote the political transition process and security sector reform, as well as to the country programme of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
And, as announced by the SDC's Director General, Ambassador Patricia Danzi, Switzerland will also strengthen its commitment to development cooperation in Sudan, a country that hosts a great number of internally displaced persons (1.1 million) and refugees (2.5 million) whose needs must be met.
Sudan – a major country of transit and of destination for migrants
Sudan is a major country of transit and of destination along the Horn of Africa migration route and is itself subject to high migratory pressure. This is why Switzerland is committed to protecting displaced persons and migrants in Sudan and to promoting migration governance. According to Ambassador Vincenzo Mascioli, Assistant Director of the State Secretariat for Migration, Switzerland and Sudan agreed during the political consultations to further reinforce migration cooperation.
Despite its difficult economic situation – worsened by the global COVID-19 pandemic – Sudan has taken steps towards economic and financial reforms. The Swiss delegation announced in Khartoum that Switzerland would continue to leverage its influence within the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to support economic reforms in Sudan, including the debt relief process.
Long-standing diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Sudan
Bilateral diplomatic relations have been in place since 1960, and Switzerland has had a representation in Sudan for 60 years. Relations with Sudan are characterised by long-standing humanitarian and peacebuilding work. Switzerland has played a key role in the conclusion of the 2002 Nuba Mountains Ceasefire Agreement. This agreement forms the basis for the comprehensive peace agreement of 2005 between the Sudanese government and southern rebel group the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
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