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Foreign Ministry: Sudan’s removal from US terror list ‘a matter of time’

May 24 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, meet on the side lines of the Munich Security Conference in February (SUNA)
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, meet on the side lines of the Munich Security Conference in February (SUNA)

Sudan’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Omar Gamareldin, asserts that the removal of Sudan from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism – regarded as a priority for Sudan’s economic recovery – is now ‘just a matter of time’ in view of improved diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In a statement on Friday, Gamareldin stressed that the bilateral diplomatic relationship between Sudan and the USA is “developing smoothly” and that “diplomatic relations have been enhanced”.

Gamareldin explained that US and Sudanese diplomatic relations have been upgraded to ambassador level after decades at the level of chargé d'affaires.

The minister stressed that the Sudanese government will continue negotiating with the USA until Sudan is removed from the blacklist.

USS Cole

In April, The transitional government of Sudan paid-out a settlement of $70 million to the families of the victims of the 2000 USS Cole* bombing in Yemen in an effort to persuade the USA to remove Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

On February 13, Sudan’s Ministry of Justice confirmed that a settlement agreement was signed on February 7.

“The government of Sudan wishes to indicate that the settlement agreement explicitly affirmed that the government is not responsible for this incident or any other terrorist incidents or acts, and that it entered into this settlement out of concern to settle the historical allegations of terrorism left by the former regime, and only for the purpose to meet the conditions set by the US administration to delete Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to normalise relations with the USA and the rest of the world.”

The matter was high on the agenda during the February meeting between Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Hamdok and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on the side lines of the Munich Security Conference.

At that meeting, Hamdok expressed hope that the progress made in the settlement of the USS Cole* question would help accelerate the process of removing the name of Sudan from the US list of countries sponsors of international terrorism.

UN Secretary-General

In February, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, called on the USA to remove Sudan from the list of States Sponsors of Terrorism.

In his address to the opening sitting of the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Guterres said developments have occurred in Sudan and the two governing councils working closely for achieving peace and stability in the country requires removing the name of Sudan from the US terror list to support the country to emerge from its crises.

Foreign debt

However, Tibor Nagy, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, said during a visit to Khartoum in January that “considerable arrears to international financial institutions”, which prevent those institutions from making additional loans or grants to Sudan, is the main reason that the country is struggling to secure additional finance.

Nagi fielded repeated questions regarding Sudan’s continued presence on the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), seen by many as a major impediment to Sudan’s economic recovery.

* USS COLE: The October 12, 2000 attack killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen others when two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the Navy guided-missile destroyer as it was refuelling in the southern Yemeni port of Aden, blasting a gaping hole in its hull. The vessel was repaired and later returned to full active duty.

In a ruling in March 2019, the US Supreme Court prevented US sailors injured in the deadly Al Qaeda bombing in 2000 of the US Navy destroyer USS Cole from collecting $314.7 million in damages from the government of Sudan for its alleged role in the attack.

A majority of eight judges to one overturned a lower court’s ruling that had allowed the US servicemen to collect the damages from certain banks that held frozen Sudanese assets. However the new judgment rests more on a legal technicality than exonerating Sudan. In the ruling, the justices agreed with Sudan that the lawsuit had not been properly initiated in violation of US law, because the claims were delivered in 2010 to the Sudanese Embassy in Washington rather than to its Minister of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum.

Fifteen of the injured sailors and three of their spouses sued Sudan’s government in 2010 in Washington. At issue was whether mailing the lawsuit to Sudan’s embassy violated the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a US law governing when foreign governments may be sued in American courts.

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