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U.S. military attaché visits Sudan’s Blue Nile state

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IDPs gather to receive food provided by the WFP during a visit by a EU delegation, at an IDP camp in Azaza, east of Ed Damazin, Blue Nile state, October 21, 2015. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters Photo)
May 18, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The newly appointed defence attaché at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum Lieut. Col. Jörn Pung Wednesday held consultations with the governor of the troubled Blue Nile state and senior army commanders in Damazin.

The meeting was attended from the government side by Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Mohammed Abdel-Rahim, second commander of the 4th infantry division, Brig. Gen. Atef Youssef, state director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) besides a number of army commanders.

Following the meeting, the official news agency SUNA quoted Blue Nile governor and head of the security committee Hussein Yassen Hamad as saying “the state government and all regular forces are observing the ceasefire declared by the President of the republic recently.”

Last January, President Omer al-Bashir decided to extend the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones for six months.

Yassen reiterated the call for arms bearers to join the dialogue and peace process, praising the U.S. stances and genuine support for the peace efforts in the country.

He pointed that the meeting discussed challenges facing peace and stability in the region besides government efforts to ease the tasks of the humanitarian and development groups operating in the Blue Nile.

According to SUNA, the U.S. defence attaché stressed his country’s support for peace and stability in Sudan and particularly in the Blue Nile, expressing appreciation for the Sudanese army and its sincere adherence to the ceasefire.

He renewed the U.S. call for all arms bearers to join the dialogue and peace process.
For his part, the second commander of the 4th infantry division said Pung’s visit comes within the framework of assessing the five-track talks between Sudan and the U.S.

Last January, former President Barack Obama eased the 19-year economic and trade sanctions on Sudan. The decision came as a response to the collaboration of the Sudanese government on various issues including the fight against terrorism.

Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. Several agencies, including the State Department, have to present to President Donald Trump next June their findings and recommendations over the fate of the sanctions.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.

Talks between the two sides for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since last August. The SPLM-N demands to deliver 20% of the humanitarian assistance through a humanitarian corridor from Asosa, an Ethiopian border town.

But the government rejects the idea saying it is a breach of the state sovereignty and a manoeuvre from the rebels to bring arms and ammunition to their locked rebel-held areas in the Two Areas.

The SPLM-N last November declined an American proposal to transport humanitarian medical assistance directly to the civilians in the rebel-held areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

(ST)

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