Sudan has denied reports in Israeli state media that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit Khartoum, as Tel Aviv seeks to establish diplomatic relations with Arab and African-Muslim states.
The leader of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party, Abdel Sakhi Abbas, made the rebuttal to the Israeli claims in the official Turkish news agency Anadolu on Monday.
"[Netanyahu] cannot visit Sudan. There has been no discussion about this visit among official Sudanese circles," Abbas was quoted as saying, adding that the reports were "baseless".
The Israel Broadcasting Corporation's Arabic-language service reported on Monday that Netanyahu was planning on visiting Sudan and that Israeli officials were attempting to forge relations with the country.
"Israeli officials are working to build relations with this African Republic, one of the goals of this is to reduce the distance of flights between Israel and South America by gaining access to Sudanese and Chadian airspace," the report said.
The report was released after Netanyahu met with Chadian President Idriss Deby in a Jerusalem.
Israel's Channel 10 reported that Israel is currently making efforts to establish relations with Bahrain and Muslim states in Africa.
The outlet said the meeting between Netanyahu and Deby "will pave the way for relations with Muslim neighbours Mali and Niger".
"There will be additional visits to Arab countries soon," Netanyahu was quoted as saying during talks with Deby.
The developments come after Netanyahu made a surprise visit to the Gulf sultanate of Oman last month - the first in more than 20 years by an Israeli premier.
The surprise meeting with Oman's Sultan Qaboos was kept secret until Netanyahu's return home. It took place despite the two nations having no diplomatic ties.
Following Netanyahu's visit, Israeli ministers visited the UAE and Oman.
Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only Egypt and Jordan, but the trips are the latest sign of growing regional ties between Israel and Arab states.
Israel and some Gulf states - notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - have a shared interest in curbing Iran's influence in the region and cooperate on intelligence gathering.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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