General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Reuters

Sudan's leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said on Tuesday that his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the previous day was driven by his responsibility to protect the country's national security.

Burhan's first remarks about the meeting in Uganda, talks that surprised even Sudan's cabinet, came after he briefed the northeast African country's ruling sovereign council which he heads.

"I took this step from the standpoint of my responsibility... to protect the national security of Sudan and achieve the supreme interests of the Sudanese people," Burhan said in a brief statement quoted by AFP and released after he met the council and top ministers.

Netanyahu and the Sudanese leader met in Entebbe at the invitation of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

During the meeting, it was agreed to start cooperation that will normalize relations between the two countries.

Burhan reportedly expressed his desire that his state go through a process of modernization by removing it from isolation and placing it on the world map.

The Sudanese government later said that it was not informed in advance of the meeting and would seek clarifications from Burhan about it.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership denounced the meeting, which came just days after US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan, as "a stab in the back".

"I stress that examining and developing relations between Sudan and Israel is the responsibility of the concerned institutions, as according to (Sudan's) constitutional declaration" signed following the ouster of former dictator Omar al-Bashir, Burhan said, according to AFP.

"I also confirm that Sudan's principled stance on the Palestinian issue and the right of its people to an independent state is and will remain firm, in keeping with Arab consensus and Arab League resolutions," he added.

Israel and Sudan have had no formal ties in the past. In 2016, the country’s then-Foreign Minister hinted that his country could consider normalizing ties with Israel, but the government was then quick to that his comments were “taken out of contest”.

Sudan is a member of the Arab League which on Saturday rejected the US peace plan during a summit in Cairo.

While the PA was critical of the meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Burhan’s efforts to normalize ties with Israel.

The State Department noted that Pompeo “invited General al-Burhan to Washington, D.C. to meet with him later in the year.”