Qatar to export gas to sanctions-hit Sudan: minister

Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein speaks during a press conference on December 10, 2012, in Khartoum (AFP Photo/Ebrahim Hamid)

Khartoum (AFP) - Qatar has agreed to provide sanctions-hit Sudan with natural gas and to boost military cooperation with Khartoum, Sudan's defence minister said Tuesday after visiting the Gulf state.

Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told reporters he had signed an "agreement to export gas from Qatar to Sudan for electricity production", which would start at the beginning of 2015.

The minister gave no further details on the gas agreement.

But he said Sudan had struck a deal on defence links with the Gulf state, where he spent three days, during which he met his counterpart, and Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The defence agreement includes "cooperation on training", Hussein said at a news conference at Khartoum airport.

Sudan's economy has been badly hit by a 1997 US trade embargo and President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

But Khartoum has stepped up efforts to rebuild ties.

Bashir told Foreign Minister Ali Karti to "move forward on the path for opening dialogue with the United States," state news agency SUNA said Sunday.

Last month, Bashir travelled to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Bashir has vowed to end Sudan's isolation, saying visits to Riyadh and Cairo proved its international ties were on the mend.