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      Sudan Military: Iran Naval Visit Reflects Strong Ties

      The visit of two Iranian naval ships to Sudan reflects strong ties between the countries, according to Sudan's military.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 10/31/2012, 5:44 AM

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir
      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir
      Iranian President Office/AFP/File

      The visit of two Iranian naval ships to Sudan reflects strong ties between the countries, Sudan's military said on Tuesday, according to AFP.

      Sudan's links to Iran have come under scrutiny after Khartoum accused Israel of sending four radar-evading aircraft to strike the Yarmouk military factory in the heart of the capital at midnight on October 23.

      The factory compound exploded and burst into flames, and speculation followed that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured there.

      On Monday, Khartoum denied Iranian involvement in weapons manufacturing. It accused Israel of "spreading fabricated information".

      On a visit to Tehran last August, President Omar al-Bashir described the relationship between Sudan and Iran as "deeply rooted".

      "Two Iranian navy ships are visiting Port Sudan" until Wednesday, army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told the official SUNA news agency.

      "The visit of the two ships will support strong political, security and diplomatic relations between the two states," he added.

      Saad said the port call is a chance for Sudanese naval personnel "to see advanced weapons and advanced ships," which will also be open to the public.

      However, a witness said the Iranian vessels were not visible at the Port Sudan shipping terminal and permission was required to gain access to them.

      "The docking of the Iranian ships in Port Sudan is not a secret," Foreign Minister Ali Karti said, quoted by SUNA.

      Naval ships from Pakistan, Egypt and India have previously visited Sudan, military spokesman Saad said.

      On Monday, a member of the Iranian parliament confirmed that Tehran had a close relationship with Khartoum, transferring manpower, technology and materials to Sudan. However, the official said, no Iranians were present in the arms factory that was mysteriously blown up last week.

      The Satellite Sentinel Project said on Saturday that satellite images of the aftermath of the explosions at the weapons factory suggest the site was hit in an airstrike.

      The project said that the images released showed six 52-foot wide craters near the epicenter of the explosion at the compound.

      Israel has not officially commented on the incident, but a retired Israeli defense official told Reuters on Thursday that Israel has been monitoring arms trafficking through Sudan in an attempt to "stem the flow of arms (to Sinai and Gaza) without triggering major confrontations.”

      Foreign intelligence sources told the Reuters news agency that Israel had also carried out an unmanned drone raid on a convoy south of Khartoum. The sources claimed the strike destroyed 200 tons of munitions, including rockets, that were intended for Gaza.