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Sudan summons UK ambassador over newspaper interview

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September 10, 2015 (KHARTOUM) –The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the British ambassador Michael Aron on Thursday to protest statements he made to a local newspaper in which he addressed the situation in Darfur and debt relief.

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Michael Aron

The Undersecretary at the foreign ministry Abdel Ghani al-Naeem expressed to the British diplomat his government’s resentment and disapproval of his negative depiction he made of the situation in Darfur and debt relief.

Al-Naeem told the British ambassador that his statements contained "inaccurate" information.

Aron told al-Meghar al-Siyasi newspaper that it is impossible to cancel Sudan’s debt as the government spends 70% of the budget on security and military functions and not on health, education and other sectors.

"The government is fully aware of what it needs to do to relieve the debt," he said.

The Sudanese official told Aron that such statements “carry a language dominated by prejudice and non-understanding and do not serve the relations of the two countries nor help in developing them".

The Undersecretary explained to the ambassador the programmes undertaken in collaboration with the World Bank and United Nations agencies and how Sudan executed a large number of projects that helped alleviate poverty in the country.

Al-Naeem also said that claims about the government not granting permissions to visit Darfur "is belied by the facts and statistics from Sudanese and non-Sudanese sources".

The British ambassador had said in the interview that Khartoum “does not want us to travel to Darfur and the two regions [Blue Nile & South Kordofan] which means that the security situation is not suitable".

"The US envoy was not allowed to visit Darfur .. perhaps because of a problem in the aviation .. but if we wanted to travel to Darfur or to the east or south we must ask for permission from authorities and this means that the government does not have confidence in the security situation in these areas".

According to the Sudanese ministry, Aron offered his apologies and regrets about the interview saying that "it was not his intention to offend Sudan and will never do so" stressing that his country is working towards better relations with Sudan.

Aron had assumed his post last month to succeed ambassador Peter Tiber. He has previously worked in Sudan as a teacher in 1981 before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

(ST)

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