Sudan's Govt Urges Envoys to Make More Effort On Debt Relief

Khartoum — Sudan's foreign minister Ali Karti, has urged a group of the country's ambassadors in Western Europe to exert more efforts in order to convince officials in those countries to cancel their debts to Sudan.

Karti who is currently visiting Madrid, made this appeal at a meeting on Friday with Sudan's envoys to Spain, Geneva, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

The meeting was also attended by the state's minister at the presidency Yahia Hussein who heads the foreign debt unit and members of the Sudan external debt committee.

Hussein said that addressing the debt issue should be the top priority for Sudan's foreign policy and implored upon ambassadors to concert their efforts and work on debt relief.

Sudan's external debt is estimated to have grown by 27% since 2008 from $32.6 billion to $41.4 billion in 2011. The IMF forecast that the debt level will reach $43.7 billion in 2012 and $45.6 billion in 2013. The latter represents 83% of Sudan's 2011 GDP, which was $55.1 billion.

The officials also called on the ambassadors to attach great importance to settling the debt issue with creditor nations within the framework of the joint efforts that includes Sudan, South Sudan and the high- level panel of the African Union noting that some western countries have expressed sympathy with Sudan's quest for debt cancellation.

Last April, the deputy director of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Edward Jameel, warned that it will be near impossible for Sudan to secure debt relief even if it satisfied technical and economic requirements.

Jameel who led a delegation to Khartoum went on to say that Sudan won't be able to benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative despite fulfilling its conditions unless it succeeds in convincing all 55 members of the Paris Club creditor nations whom he said have the power to slash 67% of conventional debt owed by Sudan.

The IMF official further pointed out that any debt relief deal with Sudan would require the unanimous consent of all 55 countries which he suggested would be a slippery slope to climb.

"I'm not saying this is impossible but it is difficult because it is linked to political issues which require a public relations effort with member countries", Jameel said.

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