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U.S. lifts sanctions on Sudan

U.S. lifts sanctions on Sudan

U.S. officials said Sudan had made progress in counter-terrorism and human rights issues.

Official news agency SUNA quoted a foreign ministry statement welcoming the decision: "The leaders of Sudan, the government of Sudan and the people of Sudan welcome the positive decision taken by American President Donald Trump of removing the economic sanctions completely". Sudan was the only country to be removed from the new list, which also added restrictions on several additional countries.

The Sudanese government said on Wednesday that "it has fulfilled all the necessary conditions relating to the roadmap", stressing that "the USA administration is a witness to that and therefore we expect the sanctions to be lifted". "However, this requires lifting Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism because it does not apply (to Sudan)". However, Sudan had to show continued improvement during a six-month review period to win full repeal of the sanctions.

It will also mark a major turnaround for the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Instead of relying exclusively on the punishment of sanctions, the new strategy is to use relief as an enticement to encourage more changes.

In 1997, the United States imposed sanctions on Sudan, including a trade embargo and blocking the government's asset over the African country's alleged human rights violations and support for terrorism. In July, Trump extended the review for three months, angering the Sudanese, who stopped some lower-level meetings with USA officials in retaliation, but maintained contacts between senior officials.

The United States confirmed this Friday (6) that it will lift its economic sanctions against Sudan.

The official also noted despite this action, Sudan will remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"It's a real marker, taking what had been a very bad and hard relationship in a new and positive direction. This is a productive first step". Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face genocide charges related to the Darfur conflict. That bloody war resulted in the eventual independence of South Sudan in 2011 but still simmers as a low-intensity conflict. Many of those with means are fleeing the country, seeing little future there. It also remains subject to separate United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its violent crackdown on opposition groups in Darfur, for which Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, faces worldwide criminal prosecution on charges of crimes against humanity, including genocide.

Sudan's improved relationship with the West is becoming more concrete.

The State Department official said Sudan has cooperated in countering militants inside Sudan and throughout North Africa, by helping deter attempts by terrorists to transit through the country. As a result, the USA dollar exchange rate went up in banks to 15.8 SDG from the official rate of 6.5 SDG.

Amnesty International alleged a year ago that Sudanese government forces used chemical weapons against civilians, including babies and young children, in one of the most remote parts of the restive Darfur region as recently as September.