May 25, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – A United States congressional delegation met on Monday with some of the highest figures in the Sudanese government.
Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator Bob Corker, whose visit marks the latest in a series of moves on the part of the US to reengage in a bilateral dialogue, arrived in Khartoum on Sunday at noon.
Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha discussed with the American delegation “means of boosting bilateral relations,” the official SUNA reported. Taha has played a significant role as interlocutor with US officials in past periods of engagement, especially during US-brokered peace negotiations.
The Sudanese official in charge of relations with the US, Ambassador Nasr-Eddin Wali, said the American delegation’s visit to Sudan came with the aim of getting acquainted with the situation on the ground, adding that the visit is an extension of the recent visit of the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry.
“Sudan looks forward for close cooperation with the United States of America to push ahead the relations on the bases of mutual respect and respect to Sudan’s sovereignty,” he said.
An advisor to President Omer Al-Bashir, Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin, received the two senators in his office and acquainted them with “the real situation in Sudan and the more positive role that the United States can play in dealing with Sudan issues in general and Darfur issue in particular,” stated the official news organ.
Isakson and Corker also met with Foreign Minister Deng Alor, who was twice in Washington in 2009. According to press statements made by the US legislators after the meeting, they discussed implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and humanitarian issues in Darfur.
The visit complements the approach taken by the US State Department, which has chosen a diplomatic tack over military threats earlier made before his election by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials. Today a British scholar and commentator on Darfur issues, Alex De Waal, characterized the approach of US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration as one of “unclenching the fist.”