4 February 2013

Sudan: U.S. to Ease Sanctions On Sudan to Allow Educational Exchange - Diplomat

Khartoum — The top U.S. diplomat in Sudan revealed today that Washington will soon change sanctions regulations that will allow educational institutional in both countries to deal directly with one another.

Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 because of civil wars, accusing it of supporting terrorism. In 2007 it strengthened the embargo citing abuses in Darfur which it labeled as genocide.

In 2010 the U.S. announced it was easing sanctions on agriculture equipment and services which allowed half a dozen companies to get export licenses.

Khartoum has lobbied Washington intensively to lift sanctions but little progress has been made on this front.

In an interview with the independent al-Sahafa newspaper the American charge d'affaires Joseph D. Stafford said that the Obama administration is prepared to hold a comprehensive, frank and transparent dialogue with Khartoum on all issues that prevent normalization of bilateral ties.

Stafford noted that security cooperation between the two sides which strengthened more than a decade ago is continuing describing it as "good".

However, the U.S. diplomat called on Khartoum to resolve internal conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

He denied that the U.S. is biased in favor of any party in Sudan and strongly dismissed accusations by officials in Khartoum that Washington is behind the "New Dawn" charter signed by opposition and rebel groups in Kampala last month.

Stafford said that Washington informed Sudanese rebels that they oppose any attempt to overthrow the regime by force and urged them to seek dialogue with Khartoum.

"We are only biased towards peace in Sudan," the U.S. official said.

He said that his country stopped granting visas to Sudanese and reduced its staff since last September following demonstrations that broke out in Khartoum at the U.S. embassy against a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad.

Stafford called this a temporary measure that he hopes will soon be reversed.

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