President Omar El-Bashir of Sudan was due in Doha Monday on a two-day visit to Qatar during which he will hold talks with the Emir of the oil-rich tiny gulf State, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported.
According to SUNA, the two leaders will discuss economic and investment issues, including the promotion of mutual ties.
To clear grounds for the summit, Sudanese presidential advisor and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and the man responsible for the Arab Gulf investment, Mustafa Osman Ismail, visited Qatar two days earlier to deliver a special message from El-Bashir to Al Thani.
El-Bashir is leading a high-level ministerial delegation, including his Minister of the Presidency, Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Karti.
Sudan and Qatar have forged special ties among Middle Eastern states, taking similar stands on issues ranging from support for recent Arab uprising in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia as well as a lukewarm position against the Syrian regime and the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
Qatar, which has been playing a major role in a recent agreement that involved a major Darfur rebel movement, the Justice and Democracy Movement, had promised to implement major economic and investment projects in the Sudan.
The Gulf state has pledged to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars for the rehabilitation of Darfur.
El-Bashir’s visit comes a day after his maiden summit with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan after which no official joint communiqué was issued and the two sides unable to make official statements on the formation of joint committees to resolve outstanding issues.
PANA reports that the Sudanese and southern Sudanese people, who expected a positive outcome from the summit since their 9 July independence of the south, were left disappointed.
The El-Bashir-Kiir meeting had been expected to announce major economic breakthroughs.
After the south gained independence, leaving with some 70 percent of the resources, Khartoum was hit by escalating prices of basic commodities and a drop in the value of the Sudanese pounds against the US dollar (US$ 1 = 4.20 SDG) in the black market up from US$ 1 = 2.50 SDG, a potential source of unrest in any country.
The Qatari visit might help ease some of these problems, if reports that Doha was going to invest heavily in Sudan is anything to go by.
Sudan has been a strong Qatari ally against the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak since the turn of the decade when Qatar assumed a leading role in the region and in Darfur in particular, to the discontent of the Egyptian regime at the time.
El-Bashir and the Emir of Qatar are both unhappy with the former Libyan leader Mouammar Kaddafi and have gone ahead to backing for the Libyan National Transitional Council.