23 December 2012

Sudan: Govt Congratulates U.S. Senator Kerry On Nomination for Secretary of State

Khartoum — The Sudanese government hailed the decision by United States president Barack Obama last week to nominate Senator John Kerry to become the next Secretary of State.

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Senator John Kerry, right, to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 21, 2012. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, watch at left. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

According to a press release by the Sudanese embassy in Washington the foreign minister Ali Karti in a letter to Kerry extended his congratulations on the nomination and expressed Sudan's willingness to continue working with the U.S. in full cooperation on matters of mutual concern.

Karti also conveyed his "sincere desire and hope for a constructive dialogue between the two countries that leads to a normal relationship and fosters peace and security in the world at large".

Sudanese officials and pro-government newspapers expressed relief over the decision by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice this month to withdraw her name from consideration for the post of U.S. Secretary of State.

Rice told Obama in the letter that Senate confirmation hearings for her would have been overly contentious. She has came under heavy fire from Republicans in Congress for remarks she made in the aftermath of a September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Khartoum believes that Rice has maintained a hostile attitude to the government led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir since her days as U.S. assistant Secretary of state for African Affairs in the 90's.

Kerry is currently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been the 2004 presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

In this capacity the U.S. Senator visited Sudan three times in April 2009, October 2010 and November 2010. The first visit came in the aftermath of Khartoum's decision to expel more than a dozen aid groups from Darfur.

At the time Sudan official news agency (SUNA) conducted a rare extensive coverage of the lawmaker's visit in what appeared to be optimism in Khartoum of gradual normalization of relations between the two countries.

The second time around Kerry came with a message from the Obama administration which said that Washington would be willing to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism if it facilitates the January 2011 South Sudan referendum.

The U.S. later said the de-listing is not possible as a result of new conflicts that erupted in Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

In a related issue the U.S. charge d'affaires Joseph Stafford said that normalizing ties between the two countries will likely take a long time. He also denied any desire by Washington to topple the Bashir government.

At a symposium on the future of the Sudanese-American relations in Khartoum he addressed in Arabic the U.S. diplomat expressed optimism that the coming period could witness a breakthrough that leads to improve ties.

The U.S. charge d'affaires said his country continues to lead multiple efforts with rebel groups in Darfur South Kordofan and the Blue Nile in order to push them to negotiate to resolve the conflict peacefully with Khartoum.

He stressed that the U.S. administration rejects military conflicts in the Sudanese territory as long as there are peace agreements such as the Doha accord and cooperation agreements with South Sudan.

The U.S. imposed a set of sanctions on Sudan since 1997 that restricts U.S. trade and investment and blocks the assets of the Sudanese government and certain officials.

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