US willing to remove Sudan from terror blacklist if reforms are implemented

US willing to remove Sudan from terror blacklist if reforms are implemented
The US State Department appears to have offered Sudan a route towards normalisation and being removed from a blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.
2 min read
08 November, 2018
Relations between Sudan and the US have steadily improved since Barack Obama's presidency [AFP]

The US said on Wednesday it was willing to remove Sudan from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism if the country undertakes further reforms, paving the way for normalisation with Washington.

Following talks in Washington, the State Department offered the prospect of a formal process to delist Sudan as it called for further anti-terrorism cooperation and improvements in human rights.

President Donald Trump's administration lifted decades-old sanctions on Sudan last year, however, investment is still blocked by the terror designation.

Companies are currently deterred from investing in the African state due to the threat of legal ramifications in the US.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan discussed items of concern during the talks on Tuesday with Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed, the State Department said in a statement.

"The United States welcomes Sudan's commitment to making progress in key areas," a State Department statement said.

"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," it said.

Besides counter-terrorism cooperation and human rights, the US asked Sudan to move forward in resolving its myriad internal conflicts - including by giving better access to humanitarian workers.

"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," it said.

Despite uneasy relations, Sudan has increasingly been seen as working with the US in key areas including containing the turbulence in neighboring Libya.

Designation as a state sponsor of terrorism severely curtails access to international financing and makes it difficult for US citizens to do business with the countries.

Trump has also used the terror blacklist as his basis for a controversial order to deny entry into the United States of ordinary people from the mostly Muslim countries.

Only three other countries are on the blacklist - Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The United States placed Sudan on the list in 1993 when al-Qaeda and its chief Osama bin Laden found refuge in the country, whose longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir had embraced a hardline brand of political Islam.

After al-Qaeda blew up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Washington responded with a cruise missile strike inside Sudan on a pharmaceutical factory, whose link to al-Qaeda turned out to be shaky.