CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s top military officer made a one-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday for talks with the Egyptian president, making his first trip abroad since his country plunged into a bitter conflict this year.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, chairman of the ruling Sovereign Council, arrived in the Mediterranean city of el-Alamein and was received at the airport by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the council said.
The two leaders discussed efforts to end the conflict in Sudan in a way that preserves “the sovereignty, integrity of Sudanese State,” an Egyptian statement said. The statement offered only generalities about the war.
Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when simmering tensions between the military, led by Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere.
The conflict has turned the capital into an urban battlefield, with the RSF controlling vast swaths of the city. The military command, where Burhan has purportedly been stationed since April, has been one of the epicenters of the conflict.
In televised comments to Egyptian media, Burhan accused the RSF of initiating the war to seize power in Sudan.
“We’re facing a destructive war initiated by rebel groups ... that committed heinous crimes that amount to war crimes,” he said.
The military has sought to end the conflict and establish a transitional period until “fair and free elections,” he said.
Burhan was accompanied by acting Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq and Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Mufadel, head of the General Intelligence Authority, and other military officers.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, al-Sadiq said that among several "urgent issues” discussed was the flow of people and goods across the Sudanese-Egyptian border.
More than 4.6 million people have been displaced, according to the U.N. migration agency. Those include over 3.6 million who fled to safer areas inside Sudan and more than 1 million others who crossed into neighboring countries. More than 285,300 people have fled to Egypt.
There was no immediate comment from the RSF either on Burhan's trip or on his comments.
In a separate statement, the Sovereign Council also announced late Tuesday that Burhan had returned to Port Sudan, the country's largest coastal city controlled by the military. The general had departed from the Red Sea city to Egypt earlier in the day.
Burhan managed last week to leave Sudan's military headquarters in Khartoum. He visited military facilities in Khartoum's sister city of Omdurman and elsewhere north of the capital.
In months of fighting, neither side has managed to gain control of Khartoum or other key areas in the country. Last week, large explosions and plumes of black smoke could be seen above key areas of the capital, including near its airport.
Egypt has longstanding ties with the Sudanese army and its top generals. In July, el-Sissi hosted a meeting of Sudan’s neighbors and announced a plan for a cease-fire. A series of fragile truces, brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, have failed to hold.
Many residents of Khartoum live without water and electricity, and the country’s health care system has nearly collapsed.
The sprawling region of Darfur has seen some of the worst violence in the conflict, and the fighting there has morphed into ethnic clashes, with RSF and allied Arab militias targeting ethnic African communities.
Clashes intensified earlier this month in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur province, with both sides using heavy weapons in densely populated areas, according to activists and local media.
Shelling hit in Nyala’s al-Sekka al-Hadeid neighborhood on Aug. 22, killing at least 39 civilians including women and children, activist Adam Mousa said.
Mousa, who is a media officer with the Darfur Bar Association, called for the International Criminal Court to investigate the attack and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Clashes were also reported in the provinces of South Kordofan and West Kordofan, according to the United Nations.
The fighting is estimated to have killed at least 4,000 people, according to the U.N. human rights office, though activists and doctors on the ground say the toll is likely far higher.
Martin Griffiths, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, said Tuesday that the organization had added an additional $20 million from its emergency funding to help cover Sudan's growing humanitarian needs.
This year a total of $60 million from the fund has been allocated to Sudan, Griffith said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Associated Press writer Jack Jeffery contributed to this report from London