(MENAFN - Jordan Times) KHARTOUM — A Turkish military ship arrived in Port Sudan on Saturday for a three-day visit aimed at enhancing 'security and safety' in the Red Sea, a Sudanese general said.
Ties between Khartoum and Ankara have grown since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Sudan in December 2017 as part of a plan to gain a strategic foothold in Africa.
The Turkish ship, Gojka Ada, arrived on Saturday morning at Port Sudan for a visit that will last until March 11, Sudan's army said.
'The visit reflects the cooperation between the two armed forces and is also part of a diplomatic initiative,' Sudanese General Mousa Ahmed Mousa said in the statement.
'It will also enhance the security and safety of the Red Sea.'
Erdogan's Sudan visit was the first by a Turkish president to the east African country, and led to several bilateral deals.
Erdogan said at the time that Sudan had agreed to letTurkeyrestore the Red Sea port of Suakin Island, which thrived during the Ottoman era, but has fallen into disrepair.
The deal caused concern in Riyadh and Cairo, which fear Ankara is attempting to extend influence in the region to their detriment.
But Erdogan had denied that there was any plan to build a military base at Suakin.
The Turkish president said that the renovated port at Suakin could attract Hajj-bound pilgrims to the Red Sea island, in turn boosting the region's tourism.
Sudan has been rocked by nationwide demonstrations against President Omar Al Bashir's iron-fisted rule since December 19.
Protests were triggered by a government decision to triple the price of bread, but then grew into rallies against Bashir's administration.
Protesters blame Bashir for mismanaging the country's economy and have called on him to step down.
The veteran leader has refused to resign and instead has imposed a slew of tough measures to quell the protests, including a year-long state of emergency across the country.
Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed, including medics and children.