Energy-rich Qatar sets eyes on poverty-stricken Sudan
KHARTOUM - The emir of energy-rich Qatar, a key backer of Sudan's Islamist regime, visits cash-strapped Khartoum next week for talks on bolstering ties, official media said on Saturday.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani's one-day trip Wednesday will come as tensions reached unprecedented levels between Doha and other Gulf states over its perceived support for the widely-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
In contrast, relations between the wealthy Gulf emirate and poverty-stricken Sudan are friendly, the official SUNA news agency reported.
"This visit will confirm these excellent relations between the two countries," SUNA quoted Yasir Khidr, Khartoum's ambassador to Doha, as saying.
Sheikh Tamim and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will discuss bilateral relations and "issues in which both sides have a mutual interest," Khidr said.
"On some issues we are partners, like in agriculture, mining and antiquities," he said. "And we have coordinated on international issues."
Sudanese officials last Sunday said Qatar was providing an unprecedented $135 million to support Sudan's rich but under-developed archaeological heritage.
Qatar is also a key backer of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, a deal signed in the Qatari capital three years ago between Khartoum and an alliance of rebel splinter groups.
Sheikh Tamim's visit comes as worsening violence in Darfur evokes comparisons with the early stages of the region's war which shocked the world a decade ago.