Foreign Secretary cuts short Pacific trip to deal with Sudan crisis

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has cut short a Pacific tour due to the deteriorating situation in Sudan.

The British High Commission in Wellington said Mr Cleverly had made a series of calls from its offices.

He left from New Zealand a day before he was due to meet with his counterpart Nanaia Mahuta, having skipped a planned visit to Samoa to fly in directly from the Solomon Islands.

“It’s with real regret that due to the ongoing situation in Sudan I’ve had to cut the visit short,” Mr Cleverly said in a statement. “I’ve learned a lot about the region, its opportunities and challenges.”

“I’ve spoken to Foreign Minister Mahuta and told her how disappointed I am to have had to leave early and we’ve agreed we’ll reschedule as soon as we can. I’m very much looking forward to coming back soon.”

Sudan’s military ruled out negotiations with a rival paramilitary force on Thursday, saying it would only accept its surrender as the two sides continued to battle in central Khartoum and other parts of the country.

The High Commission said Mr Cleverly will continue overseeing the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office response to the violence in Sudan by providing support to staff on the ground and consular services for British nationals.

Britain has historic ties to Sudan. In an unusual arrangement, Britain and Egypt jointly ruled Sudan from 1899 until it gained independence in 1956, but Sudan is not among the group of 56 Commonwealth nations.

Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had spoken to the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, on Friday to discuss the situation in Sudan.

Djibouti is a small country on the Horn of Africa, sharing a border with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

A No 10 spokesman said: “President Guelleh updated on his discussions with the parties in Sudan and both leaders reiterated calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to talks.

“They agreed that the United Kingdom and Djibouti would continue to co-ordinate efforts to de-escalate the violence and protect civilians, including our citizens.”

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