Sudan off US terrorism sponsor list

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A US decision to remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism came into effect on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, eliminating a burden on Sudan’s economy since 1993 and restricting its ability to receive aid.

The move is a boost for transitional authorities who took over after president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown last year and are grappling with an economic crisis.

President Donald Trump said in October he would rehabilitate Sudan, days before announcing Israel and Sudan intended to normalise relations. A 45-day Congressional review period has now elapsed.

“This achievement was made possible by the efforts of Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government to chart a bold new course away from the legacy of the Bashir regime and, in particular, to meet the statutory and policy criteria for rescission,” Pompeo said in a statement issued in Washington.

Sudan engaged in talks with the US for months and paid a negotiated $335 million settlement to victims of al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies in East Africa in 1998 who were awarded higher damages by US courts.

A process to release the settlement money and restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity is currently stalled in Congress.

“LIBERATED”

“We have been liberated from the global blockade we were forced into by the behaviour of the ousted regime,” Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in a statement.

“This achievement contributes to economic reforms, attracting investments and remittances through official channels, creating new job opportunities for young people and other positives.”

The US listed Sudan in 1993 on grounds that Bashir’s regime was harbouring militant groups including al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. It cut Sudan off from financial assistance and investment and from the global banking system.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington would now help Khartoum seek financing from international lenders and negotiate relief on $60 bln in foreign debt.

Sudan hopes to gain access to equipment and software for healthcare, energy, transport, education and infrastructure, Hamdok’s office said.

“This decision has given us hope our circumstances could improve,” said Mohamed Hassan, a 58-year-old private sector employee in Khartoum.