March 1 (UPI) -- The guided missile cruiser USS Winston S. Churchill arrived in Sudan, the U.S. Navy reported on Monday, days after a Russian frigate conducted a visit.
The U.S. ship's visit to Port Sudan came a week after that of the fast transport ship USNS Carson City, the first port visit by a U.S. warship to Sudan and an arrival meant to initiate a partnership with Sudan's military.
While the United States imposed sanctions on Sudan in 2017 for its support of terrorist organizations, notably al-Qaeda, Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel in October 2020.
This prompted the United States, two months later, to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of countries supporting terrorism. The delisting was preceded by the 2019 ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir.
"Together with Sudan's civilian-led transitional government, we are striving to build a partnership between our two armed forces," Rear Adm. Michael Baze, director of maritime headquarters, Navy Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet, said in a press release.
"In just the past few months, we have already seen an increase in military-to-military engagements," Baze said.
On Friday, the port was visited for the first time by a Russian warship, the frigate Admiral Grigorovitch.
An agreement between Russia and Sudan, which outlined the creation of a logistical support center in Sudan for repairs and resupply, was announced in 2019. The deal limits Russia's presence to 300 military and civilian personnel, and a maximum of four ships.
The USS Winston S. Churchill left its homeport of Norfolk, Va., in August 2020 for a deployment to the Middle East.
Last month it seized illicit weapons and weapons components in a routine patrol from two stateless ships off the coast of Somalia, according to the U.S. Navy noted in the statement.