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Sudan foreign minister to visit Washington mid February

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January 29, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — The US administration extended an official invitation to Sudan foreign minister Deng Alor to visit Washington during the second half of February.

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Deng Alor

Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that Alor met with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa during which received the invitation.

Alor said that the “meeting tackled the relations between the two countries” and that the upcoming visit will discuss “means of developing the Sudanese-American relations”.

Relations between Washington and Khartoum have deteriorated in recent weeks in light of Sudan’s refusal to admit containers that belong to the US embassy. The Sudanese government has refused to admit the shipment without payment of custom fees, something which Washington has rejected.

Also a recent row was sparked between Khartoum and Washington because of statements made by its charge d’affaires Alberto Fernandez.

Fernandez told Reuters in an interview that a political crisis over stalled implementation of Sudan’s north-south peace deal and other unfulfilled commitments would directly affect Darfur peace talks due in the coming months.

Sudanese officials who were outraged by the statements summoned Fernandez and told him “not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs”

The Sudanese foreign minister assumed his position late December as part of Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) portfolio in the government of national unity. The choice of Alor was met with stiff resistance from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) but the latter was forced to accept in order to secure the return of southern ex-rebels to the cabinet after their withdrawal last October.

Alor’s predecessor Lam Akol has been viewed as too close to the NCP and was summoned for investigation by SPLM leadership and was not on the list of cabinet ministers submitted to Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

However analysts say that it is unlikely that Alor will be able to implement radical changes to Sudan foreign policy since the powers lie with the NCP and president Al-Bashir.

(ST)

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