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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump reacts after hanging up a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, second from left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and others applaud in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel, making it the third Arab state to do so as part of U.S.-brokered deals in the run-up to Election Day.

The announcement came after the North African nation agreed to put $335 million in an escrow account to be used to compensate American victims of terror attacks. The attacks include the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the al-Qaida network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan. In exchange, Trump notified Congress on Friday of his intent to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

It was foreign policy achievement for Trump just 11 days before Election Day. Previously, the Trump administration engineered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — the first since Jordan recognized Israel in the 1990s and Egypt in the 1970s.

Trump said at least five other countries want to come into the deal, which is collectively called the Abraham Accords.

The new recognitions of Israel unify Arab nations around their common enemy, Iran. They also upend the traditional Arab strategy of refusing to normalize relations with Israel before an independent Palestinian state is created.

The Palestinians said the recognitions amount to betrayal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned and rejected the agreement, saying a lasting peace in the region depends on ending the Israeli occupation and creating a Palestinian state. Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior Palestinian official, called the agreement a "stab in the back" of the Palestinian people and their cause. The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, also condemned the agreement.

Israel said the recognitions signal the Palestinians have lost their "veto" over regional peace efforts.

Trump invited reporters to the Oval Office while still on the phone with Israeli and Sudanese leaders. Trump said Sudan had demonstrated its commitment in battling terrorism.

"This is one of the great days in the history of Sudan," Trump said, adding Israel and Sudan have been in a state of hostilities for decades, even if they had not been in direct conflict.

In a statement released in Jerusalem, Netanyahu noted that in 1967, Khartoum hosted a conference where the Arab League called for no recognition, negotiations or peace with Israel.

"Today, Khartoum is saying 'yes' to peace with Israel, 'yes' to recognition of Israel and 'yes' to normalization with Israel," Netanyahu said. "This is a new era, an era of true peace — peace that is proceeding and widening with additional Arab countries. Three in the last few weeks."

He said Israeli and Sudanese teams will meet soon to discuss cooperation in agriculture, trade and other areas. Sudan also is opening its skies to Israeli flights, which will shorten trips to Africa and South America, he said.

In a separate but related development, Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced Israel had consented to American sales of "advanced weapons" to the UAE. The arms sales was part of the deal the U.S. earlier brokered between the Israel and UAE.

Gantz and Netanyahu said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has assured Israel the U.S. would maintain Israel's qualitative military edge. Israel is currently the only country in the Mideast to possess the cutting-edge fighter jets. Gantz' office refused to identify the weapons, but Trump has said the UAE is interested in buying F35 warplanes.

The removal of the terror designation opens the door for Sudan's fragile transitional government to get international loans and aid needed to revive its battered economy and rescue the country's transition to democracy. A senior U.S. official said Sudan had borrowed the money needed to set up the escrow account for terror victims.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow the longtime autocrat, Omar al-Bashir. Thousands have protested in the country's capital Khartoum and other regions in recent days over dire economic conditions.

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