US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said no decision had been taken to ease some sanctions against Sudan, one day after a senior US official suggested this step might help the peace process.
General Scott Gration, the US special envoy for Sudan, told lawmakers last week he did not know of any intelligence to justify Sudan remaining on a list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” a designation accompanied by sanctions and restrictions on aid.
Asked whether the administration was considering such as move, Clinton replied:
“We have made no decision to lift the listing on the terrorist list of Sudan.”
She referred to an “intensive” review being done by the Obama administration on its policy towards Sudan. “But no decisions have been made,” she stressed in a joint news conference with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Reuters reports.
Gration, in his testimony to lawmakers, said US sanctions against Sudan were counterproductive to efforts to bring peace to the country, recommending that Washington eventually “unwind” some sanctions against Khartoum.
The retired Air Force general’s mandate is to try to sustain a 2005 peace accord that ended a two-decade civil war between Sudan’s north and south and to help restore stability to the western Darfur region after years of fighting between government and rebel forces.
Asked about Gration’s comments, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sudan placed on the terrorism list in 1993 had in recent years improved its counter-terrorism cooperation with the US.
He said this and other issues were part of the policy review of Sudan, which officials say is likely to be completed in a few weeks.
There is much debate across the Obama administration about how to deal with Sudan’s government and about what is happening in the western region of Darfur, which the Bush White House had labelled as genocide.
Pressed on the Obama administration’s views, Crowley avoided labelling what was happening in Darfur now as genocide and said the focus was “not on definitions.”
“You know, the president (Obama) has said that what occurred in Darfur, what has taken place in Darfur, has been genocide, and we remain deeply concerned about that,” he added.
“In any kind of evaluation and we’re going through an evaluation right now, we take stock of what has happened, we take stock of what is happening and, most importantly, we look forward. There are a number of critical, critical issues inherent in the relationship between the US and Sudan,” Crowley said.
Pic: Hillary Clinton US Secretary of State