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Sudan’s FM downplays Bashir’s request for Russian protection

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President Putin shakes hands with President al-Bashir at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 23 Nov 2017 (Photo Kremlin)
November 25, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Friday minimised a request by the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir for Russian protection from the United States saying it was about attempts to ban Sudan’s gold exportation.

President al-Bashir returned to Khartoum on Friday evening from Russia after a two-day visit where he held a controversial meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, al-Bashir asked Putin to protect his country against U.S. diplomatic efforts against his country at the UN Security Council.

In statements at Khartoum airport, the Sudanese top diplomat said the visit was "successful and historic". He added that Bashir thanked Russia for its support to Sudan in the Security Council.

" Sudan has been targeted since 1990 and until now in successive resolutions led by some Western countries where Russia and China have been supporting Sudan in the Security Council," he said.

"So, (Bashir’s) talk about protection came in the context of the targeting that meant to stop the export of gold, which is Sudan’s first export," he added.

The minister was alluding to a report by attempts to release a confidential report by UN panel of experts on Darfur in April 2016 about the gold mining in the western Sudan region. The report said that Musa Hilal, notorious tribal leader and his militia earns $54 million a year.

At the time, Russia blocked the publication of the report saying the experts were not neutral and considered it as part of a campaign to punish and weaken Khartoum rather than promoting peace and security in Darfur.

In February 2016, Russia and China had opposed an attempt by the United States and the United Kingdom to adopt the panel’s recommendations to sanction individuals and entities that impose illegal taxes on artisanal gold miners beside people engaged in the illegal exploitation and trafficking of gold.

Gold is the primary source of hard currency revenue for Sudan since the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Speaking about the impact of this visit on the relationship with the United States, the foreign minister said that Sudan’s relations with a country do not depend on its relations with another and that Sudan develops its relations with all countries of the world.

He said that Washington and Moscow have strong relations and economic cooperation, pointing that the U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin discussed recently the situation in Syria.

"So there is nothing to prevent Sudan from cooperating with the United States while at the same time pursuing strategic relations with China and Russia," Ghandour said.

"The era of blocs and the time of polarization in the world are over and now the world is open to cooperation for the benefit of all," he concluded.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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