11 November 2012

Sudan Makes Fresh Push to Normalize Ties With U.S.

Khartoum — The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti told lawmakers today that the government continues to work on normalizing relations with the United States.

Karti who appeared before the foreign affairs, security and defense committee at the national assembly, said that Khartoum wants move bilateral ties with Washington 'on the right path' despite renewal of the economic sanctions this month by president Barack Obama.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin striking a conciliatory tone said that Sudan understands U.S. decision to extend sanctions for another year calling it a mere formality.

Al-Amin went on to say that Obama could not possibly lift sanctions at this time because of the lengthy procedures involved and noted that this is an elections year in the U.S.

The lawmaker also disclosed that they have extended an invitation to U.S. lawmakers to visit Khartoum.

The Sudanese top diplomat reacted angrily this month to the sanctions renewal calling the U.S. a "hypocritical" and "weak state" that is being run "by a small group of Jews with power and money".

Karti was questioned on these remarks before the committee but he defended them by saying that they were in response to the U.S. decision.

In October 1997, the US imposed comprehensive economic, trade and financial sanctions against Sudan in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. Further sanctions, particularly on weapons, have been imposed since the 2003 outbreak of violence in the western Darfur region.

From 1991 to 1996 Sudan hosted Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS last year.

The U.S. charge d'affaires in Khartoum Joseph D. Stafford who met with the committee today told reporters afterwards that Washington supports dialogue between the government and the opposition to reach peaceful solutions that contributes to the stability of the country.

"We have no interest in aiding armed opposition and we had nothing to do with bombing the Yarmouk factory [this month blamed on Israel]," Stafford said.

In a related issue Karti denied reports that he has submitted his resignation to the president saying he heard about it in the media.

Karti raised eyebrows after what was seen a s a daring criticism of the government during a TV interview last week.

The minister said he disagreed with Khartoum's decision to receive Iranian warships last month and called on the government to downgrade ties with Tehran in favor of stronger relations with the Arab Gulf states.

He also expressed frustration with actions taken by other agencies and officials that are related to foreign policy without consulting his ministry.

In recent days local newspapers said that a cabinet reshuffle will move Karti from the foreign ministry to the justice one.

There was no official confirmation of the news.

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