8 November 2018

Sudan: 'U.S. Prepared to Consider Rescinding Sudan's Designation As a State Sponsor of Terrorism If All Criteria Met'

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Right: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Washington DC — The US State Department has voiced its commitment "to strengthening cooperation and meaningful reforms" with Sudan, and "to initiate the process of rescinding Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism if the determination is made that all of the relevant statutory criteria have been met."

US Deputy Secretary of State John J Sullivan and the Sudanese Foreign Minister Dirdeiry Ahmed held bilateral meetings in Washington DC on Monday to discuss the launch of the "Phase II" framework for bilateral US-Sudan engagement.

A statement issued by the US Department of State following the meetings, explains: "Phase II is designed to expand our bilateral cooperation, facilitate meaningful reforms to enhance stability in Sudan, and achieve further progress in a number of areas of longstanding concern."

In the statement, "the United States welcomes Sudan's commitment to making progress in key areas. Those key areas include expanding counterterrorism cooperation, enhancing human rights protections and practices, including freedoms of religion and press, improving humanitarian access, ceasing internal hostilities and creating a more conducive environment for progress in Sudan's peace process, taking steps to address certain outstanding terrorism-related claims, and adhering to UN Security Council resolutions related to North Korea.

State Sponsor of Terrorism

"As part of this process, the United States is prepared to initiate the process of rescinding Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism if the determination is made that all of the relevant statutory criteria have been met, and if Sudan makes progress in addressing each of the six key areas of mutual concern prioritized by the Phase II framework."

Yesterday's statement concludes that "the United States is ready to cooperate with Sudan and to monitor progress as we seek meaningful developments for the benefit of the Sudanese people and the region".

Presidential notice

A US presidential notice announced the continuation of the national emergency with respect to Sudan this week, in spite of a recent visit of a Sudanese delegation to Washington.

In the White House notice President Donald Trump explains why despite recent positive developments, the crisis constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan that led to the declaration of a national emergency in Executive Order 13067 in 1997, an expansion of that order in 2006, has not been resolved

FBI memo

At the end of October, the Sudanese Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding between the Sudanese Ministry of Interior and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on combating terrorism, crime and development of police cooperation. The signing comes days after US President Donald Trump's decision to extend the state of national emergency imposed on Sudan since 1997.

In a statement from the national capital of Khartoum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the extension of the US State of Emergency as "inconsistent with the spirit of constructive cooperation between the two countries on many issues of common concern".

2017 Country Reports

In September, the USA decided to keep Sudan on its blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism, yet affirmed its positive rating of Sudan's track record in combating terrorism.

The 2017 Country Reports on Terrorism, released in September by the US State Department, noted the recent easing in Sudan-US relations which have resulted in the lifting of economic sanctions that were in place since 1997.

"The United States lifted certain economic sanctions on Sudan due to progress the government made through the Five-Track Engagement Plan, which includes a process to evaluate Sudan's counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States."

Blacklisted

Sudan has been on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism by the United States for more than two decades. In November 1997, Washington blocked Sudanese government property and prohibited transactions with Sudan, as it considered Khartoum an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the USA."

About two decades later, in October 2017, certain economic sanctions were permanently revoked. The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the amendment of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations in the Federal Register, because of "Sudan's positive actions [..].

"These actions included a marked reduction in offensive military activity [..] and steps toward the improvement of humanitarian access throughout Sudan, as well as cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts," the Federal Register cited.

The amendment included a general license authorising certain transactions related to exports of agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices to Sudan in the Terrorism List Government Sanctions Regulations.

Sudanese officials have insisted on the need of the country to be removed entirely from the terrorism sponsors list, so it can benefit from the debt relief and international development aid.

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