September 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - U. S. Department of State Tuesday praised Sudanese government efforts in the fight against terrorism but excluded the removal of sanctions on the east African country as long as there is no improvement in Darfur conditions.
- The US imposed comprehensive sanctions on Sudan in 1997 (US Embassy in Khartoum website)
Sudan is under American economic and trade sanctions since 1997 for its alleged connection to terror networks. However in 2007 Bush Administration strengthened the embargo, citing abuses in Darfur which it labelled as genocide.
Also in June 2012, the then U.S. Special Envoy Princeton Lyman said the indictment of President Omer al-Bashir by the war crimes court , International Criminal Court, " hinders the possibility of full cooperation with Western countries and therefore makes Western countries less motivated to provide assistance to Sudan".
"The United States welcomes Sudan’s recent efforts to increase counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. In recent months, Sudan has taken important steps to counter ISIL and other terrorist groups and has sought to prevent their movement into and through Sudan," said a statement issued by State Department spokesperson John Kirby.
"While countering terrorism is an important objective for the United States, we continue to engage the Government of Sudan on protecting human rights, resolving internal conflicts, addressing humanitarian needs, improving regional stability, and advancing political freedoms, accountability and reconciliation," he further stated.
Sudanese officials were actively working to convince the American Administration to remove the sanction pointing to its negative impact on the ordinary people. Also, the two countries held a series of meetings on this respect and discussed the need to end armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur.
Also, U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth who is involved in the African Union efforts for peace in Sudan, carried out a visit to Darfur where he assessed the situation on the ground. He regretted the detention of IPDs representatives after meeting them in Central Darfur.
In statements to the Associate Press, Kirby excluded the lift of sanctions and normalization of bilateral relation in the near future. He said Washington has grave concerns about the situation in Darfur region.
"Complete normalization of relations would require significant progress in a range of other areas," Kirby said.
The spokesperson underlined "the need for improvements in conditions in Darfur" according to the AP.
However, the diplomat further said his administration would launch the formal revocation process of sanctions, if Sudan meets the relevant criteria, which include renouncing terrorism and not supporting extremist groups for a six-month period’’.
"This process has not been initiated," he told the AP.
"We have been quite clear with the Sudanese on the steps that need to be taken for us to consider rescission, and what would be required to make progress in easing our economic sanctions, which are distinct from the state sponsor of terrorism listing, and have remained in place, because of the continued conflicts in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. These conflicts are continuing today," he added.
The news agency also cited officials who alluded to al-Bashir indictment by the ICC saying that ’’any move to improve U.S. ties with Sudan would be complicated" by the arrest warrants.
The Sudanese government says is committed to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and calls on the armed groups to sign it.
Two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi are part of the African Union-mediated process for peace in Sudan.
They demand the government to open the framework agreement for negotiations pointing to the need to better protect civilians and their rights in the landownership.