Sudanese Parliamentary Speaker Visits Belarus

Sudanese National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir on February 19 held talks in Minsk with the heads of Belarus's two houses, Chamber of Representatives Chairman Uladzimir Kanaplyou and Council of the Republic Chairman Henadz Navitski, Belapan reported. "We've agreed on the establishment of working groups on cooperation in the Belarusian and Sudanese legislatures," Kanaplyou said after the talks, adding that Belarus and Sudan "have common ground on all international issues." Belarus's exports to Sudan, mainly trucks and tractors, amounted to $2.5 million last year. Belarus's Belarusnafta oil company made an unsuccessful bid for a contract to develop a Sudanese oil field in 2005. "On one hand, we hear declarations that it is necessary [for Belarus] to make friends with Europe and to develop relations with the international organizations on the principles of democracy and respect for human rights. But on the other, [Minsk] continues ties with dangerous countries, such as Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea. We do not see any considered changes in the policy that has led to the [current] crisis," former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Sannikau commented to RFE/RL's Belarus Service on the Sudanese visit. JM