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U.S. diplomat visits Sudan’s Red Sea State

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U.S. Embassy Khartoum CDA a.i. Steven Koutsis visits a school of disabled children to commemorate the international down syndrome day on 23 March 2016 (Photo US Embassy)
March 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - In an uncommon visit by a Western diplomat to the Red Sea State, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Steven Koutsis is visiting the eastern Sudan area to discuss U.S.-Sudan relation with the local leaders, business representatives, academics, and civil society.

"During the visit, the delegations will tour Port Sudan’s major commercial sites, speak to visitors of U.S. Embassy Khartoum’s “American Corner” located at the Port Sudan Public Library; visit with students and faculty at Red Sea University, and tour major historic and natural conservation sites including Suakin Island and Sanganeb Marine National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site," said a statement released by the American embassy in Khartoum.

Once a close ally of the United States in the region, relations between the east African nation and the U.S. have been marred by tough economic embargo and accusations of support to terror groups, for almost twenty years.

American diplomats in Khartoum, however, worked during the past years to engage the Sudanese people in a bid to improve the image of their country distorted by repeated criticism of the American administration by the government officials and of course, the negative impact of the sanctions.

The recent, improvement in bilateral ties and the partial suspension of sanction contributed largely to create a suitable atmosphere paving the way towards normalisation of bilateral relations and better engagement with Sudanese people.

The embassy said the United States seeks opportunities to strengthen its cultural, educational, and business partnerships in Red Sea state pointing that the port city, Port Sudan, is one of the largest commercial and trade hubs in the region.

The statement further said the Embassy has a "longstanding relationship" with Port Sudan’s Public Library which houses an ’American Corner’, a resource and information centre.

"The Embassy provides internet to the library, along with books, computers, movies, and digital video conference equipment for citizens of Red Sea State to learn about the United States and develop their English language skills," reads the statement.

Analysts agree that such visits are more likely to have a significant effect on public attitudes and contribute to create a reservoir of goodwill towards the United States.

On 19, March, Ambassador Koutsis and the Deputy Chief of Mission Ervin Massinga received a shipment of 47,880 metric tonnes of sorghum donated by the USAID through the World Food Programme (WFP) to the Sudanese and South Sudanese.

In addition, more than 5,000 metric tonnes of lentils and nearly 1,700 metric tonnes of vegetable oil donated by the USAID will arrive in March and April. These shipments will also be distributed to the South Sudanese refugees and Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs).

(ST)

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