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U.S. report says Sudan is partner on counter-terrorism but keeps it on blacklist

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Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, third from left, met with Sudan's foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, fourth from right, in Khartoum on 16 November 2017. (Photo AFP/ Ebrahim Hamid )
September 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The United States affirmed its positive rating of Sudan’s record in combating terrorism but kept it on its blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism along with three others.

The 2017 Country Reports on Terrorism released on Wednesday by the U.S. State Department on Wednesday noted the recent easing in Sudan-U.S. relations that resulted in lifting economic sanctions that were in place since 1997.

"[T]he United States lifted certain economic sanctions on Sudan due to progress the government made through the Five-Track Engagement Plan, which includes a process to evaluate Sudan’s counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. The Plan calls on Sudan to improve its counterterrorism efforts through enhanced interagency and international cooperation" the report reads.

It pointed out that Sudanese security forces are playing a role in intercepting the flow of potential terrorists along the borders with Libya and preventing arms smuggling along with other illicit activities. However, it recognized some of the challenges faced in this process.

"Sudan’s expansive size, and the government’s outdated technology and limited visa restrictions, presented challenges for border security".

This year’s report acknowledged that Sudan "continued to pursue counterterrorism operations alongside regional partners, including operations to counter threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan".

"Sudan’s “de-radicalization” program focused on reintegration and rehabilitation of returned foreign terrorist fighters and those espousing terrorist ideologies" it added.

The east African nation was placed on the U.S. terrorism list in 1993 over allegations it was harbouring Islamist militants working against regional and international targets.

But since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the U.S., Khartoum has kicked off a comprehensive counterterrorism cooperation with Washington with the hope of normalizing the frayed ties.

Sudanese officials insist on the need to be delisted so it can benefit from the debt relief and international development aid.

This week, the Sudanese foreign ministry announced in Khartoum that Minister El-Dirdeiry who will lead Sudanese delegation to the annual meetings of UN General Assembly would meet U.S. officials to resume discussions on Sudan’s removal from the terror list.

In November 2017, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, was in Khartoum to launch the second phase of the normalization process and pointed to the need for reforms on human rights and religious freedom.

The two countries agreed to engage in written exchanges for Sudan’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

(ST)

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