28 December 2013

Sudan's Calls On U.S. for Lifting Its Name From Terror List

Khartoum — The Sudanese government has renewed its call for the US administration to take serious steps to normalise bilateral ties and urged it to lift Sudan's name from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

Sudan was placed on the US terrorism list in 1993 over allegations it was harbouring Islamist militants working against regional and international targets. Despite close cooperation on counter-terrorism issues over the past decade which Washington repeatedly acknowledged, Khartoum has remained on the blacklist.

The east African country has also been subject to comprehensive economic sanctions since 1997 over terrorism charges and human right abuses. Further sanctions, particularly on weapons, have been imposed since the 2003 outbreak of violence in the western Darfur region.

Sudan's official news agency (SUNA) quoted a government official on Saturday as saying that removing Sudan's name from the list of states sponsoring terrorism is the first step towards improving ties between the two countries.

The Sudanese official was responding to statements attributed to the US Chargé d'affaires in Khartoum, Joseph D. Stafford, in which he said that Washington seeks to improve ties with Khartoum.

He pointed to Sudan's continuous cooperation with the US in counter-terrorism issues since the year 2000, stressing Khartoum's rejection to the US claims that it sponsors terrorism.

The same source added that successive US administrations consistently praised Sudan's efforts in counter-terrorism issues, wondering why its name was not removed from the list of states sponsoring terrorism if that was the case.

"The US administration should answer the question why Sudan's name is still on the list of states sponsoring terrorism?" he said.

He further pointed to the testimony of the US former envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, before the congress in 2009 in which he said that Sudan's name was not removed from the list for political reasons.

The government source also pointed that the US administration should have the political will to acknowledge Sudan's cooperation in counter-terrorism issues by removing its name from the list.

"This move would open the door wide for all efforts intending to improve relations with the US", he added.

Earlier this month the Sudanese government ruled out receiving the US special envoy Donald Booth again without first setting a clear agenda for his visit.

Booth arrived in Khartoum and met with the head of the parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, security, and defence, Mohamed Al-Hassan Al-Amin and according to state media discussed political and economic issues.

There were no indications that other meetings occurred with other Sudanese officials.

The head of the Americas Bureau at the Sudanese foreign ministry Mohamed Abdullah Al-Tom stressed in press statements that from now on there is no room for the traditional visits and meetings with officials to talk about the issues that were pre-agreed.

"What is required now from Washington is to address the concerns of the government to reach at a relationship based on interests", Al-Tom said.

Last month, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti offered rare praise of the US disclosing that it had played a significant role in the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) recent resolution which kept Sudan under agenda item 10 of technical assistance for another year, despite attempts by some parties to move Sudan back to agenda item 4 of monitoring.

"If the US hasn't cooperated rigorously and clearly with Sudan, we wouldn't have been able to move from item 4 to item 10", Karti said.

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