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Sudan Welcomes US Decision To Lift Sanctions

Sudan on Friday welcomed a US decision to lift some economic sanctions against Khartoum, saying it was a “positive and important” development in relations with Washington.

“The Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs welcomes the decision taken by President Barack Obama,” ministry spokesperson Ghariballah Khidir said in a statement.

“This step represents a positive and important development for the course of bilateral relations between the United States of America and Sudan, and is the natural result of joint efforts and long and frank discussions.”

Khidir said Khartoum was “determined to pursue its cooperation with the United States until Sudan is removed from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism”.

Sudan has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 for its alleged support for Islamist groups. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.

The United States has also blacklisted Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.

The government’s scorched earth tactics against ethnic minority rebels in the Darfur region have also been cited as a reason not to lift the sanctions.

On Friday, Obama announced in a letter to Congress that he was easing sanctions against Khartoum.

The past six months had seen “a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan”, he said.

The letter also recognised “steps toward the improvement of humanitarian access throughout Sudan, as well as cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism”.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when rebels took up arms against President Omar al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region.

The United Nations says at least 300 000 people have since been killed and about 2.5 million displaced.

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