Khartoum — At a press conference upon his return from the USA, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok said that his six-day visit led to "a new beginning" in relations between the USA and Sudan.
According to Hamdok "good relations with the USA are very necessary for any country that wants to develop and move forward". He pointed out that both governments managed to raise the diplomatic representation of their countries to the level of ambassadors.
Hamdok's visit to Washington had three main goals: improving bilateral relations, lifting the sanctions against Sudan, and Sudan's external debt.
Hamdok said that the visit provided an opportunity for dialogue on lifting sanctions against Sudan with the two main parties in Congress, which plays a major role in lifting sanctions as it has to approve any proposals from the administration.
He pointed out that the Sudanese delegation showed "the new face of Sudan" to a large number of influential US institutions, including the American Peace Institute and the Atlantic Council.
On Sudan's foreign debt of about $60 billion, Hamdok said that the delegation met the US administration, Congress, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. He explained that these institutions can only work with Sudan on debt relief once the US and UN sanctions have been lifted.
The lifting of sanctions will only happen if seven conditions are met, Hamdok stated. Six of these Sudan has already met: addressing peace, ensuring freedom of religion, change its relationship with North Korean, allowing humanitarian relief to areas in Sudan that were closed before and cooperation in combating terrorism.
Settlement with terrorism victims
The remaining seventh condition is an agreement on the compensation for victims of terrorist operations, such as the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania, for which the Sudanese state has been held (partly) responsible by US courts.
In the Nairobi embassy attack 213 people were killed and thousands were injured. In the Dar es Salaam embassy attach 11 were killed and some 85 were wounded.
Hamdok has discussed compensation for the families during his visit to Washington. In that negotiations the total amount of compensation claimed has been reduced from 11 billion Dollars to hundreds of millions of Dollars, Hamdok asserted.
He pointed out that "a distinguished team" is working with the American administration to deal with this matter.
Sudan has also been held responsible by US courts for the suicide attack on the USS Cole in Aden harbour in 2000, in which 17 US sailors lost their lives and 39 were injured.
Sudanese forces in Yemen
Hamdok claimed that the number of Sudanese troops fighting alongside Saudi Arabia in Yemen has been decreased from 15,000 to 5,000. During a discussion on this topic at the Atlantic Council he said that there is no military solution to the situation in Yemen. A solution can only be found through negotiations. Maybe the recent experiences in Sudan can be of help, Hamdok said.
Friends of Sudan meeting
Hamdok announced that Khartoum will host the meeting of the Friends of Sudan next week.
At the last meeting of the Friends of Sudan, Egypt, France, Germany, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank were represented.
Hamdok said the forum will help Sudan to lay the foundations for a relationship with the international community based on an understanding of the country's needs and issues.