February 10, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government stepped back from its earlier description of a visiting US figure and acknowledged that he is not a congressman as was reported by state media.
Last week, Sudan official news agency (SUNA) and state TV covered a visit by a delegation of American investors led by" Senator" Sonny Lee that expressed its desire to enter on Sudan’s oil and gas sector as well as refineries in Sudan despite US unilateral economic sanctions imposed since 1997.
Lee and his delegation met with the Sudanese officials including presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, foreign minister Ali Karti, investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and oil minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad.
According to the former chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations subcommittee al-Tijani Mustafa, the US lawmaker affirmed the negative impact of these sanctions on American businesses and vowed to seek to have them lifted through amending laws in collaboration with other congressmen.
He went on to quote Lee as saying that "Sudan is a stable country and that its people do not deserve these sanctions and should be granted its natural right in international relations, like all other countries".
In a briefing before the Sudanese parliament on Monday, Karti said that Lee is an activist and not a senator noting that his reception shows that relations with the US will improve in the future.
Yesterday Journalist Faisal Mohamed Saleh in his daily column accused the government of being fooled and subsequently fooling the Sudanese people by highlighting Lee’s visit on state media.
Saleh said after extensive research on the internet, Lee turned out to be the chairman of Great American International Development Corporation (GAIDC). He is a member of the Rotary Club of New York which on its website stated that Lee s was awarded the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom described as "the highest honor the Republican members of the U.S. Senate can bestow".
"If we had a Ministry of Foreign Affairs that performed the bare minimum of its duties and mission they would have been keen on obtaining information on visiting foreign dignitaries and arranging suitable meetings and conferences for them," he wrote.
"We will continue to wonder, until we get the answer: Who arranged the man’s visit? Did he contact the Sudanese Embassy in Washington? Is the U.S. embassy in Khartoum aware about this visit? And on what basis do officials of foreign guests? Salih asked.