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Normalizing ties with U.S. “not a priority”, Sudan says

December 16, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs said on Sunday that normalizing ties with the United States (U.S.) is not one of the country’s priorities at the moment, suggesting it is a hopeless pursuit given Washington’s vulnerability to lobby groups hostile to Khartoum.

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti on January 26, 2011 (Photo by Alex WongGetty Images North America)

The ministry’s official spokesperson Al-Obaid Adam Marawih told the pro-government daily Akhbar Al-Yawm that Sudan’s position on normalizing ties with the U.S. remain clear and unchanged. He elaborated that as long as this issue remains in the hands of lobby groups in the U.S. Congress, Sudan can never hope for any positive results.

“We reiterated this position when we congratulated the U.S. President [Barack Obama] on his re-election for the second term” Marawih said. He added that therefore the issue is “not a priority” for Khartoum in the time being.

Sudan has been under the U.S. blacklist of states sponsoring terrorism since 1993 on allegations of harboring Islamist militants despite credible reports of Sudan being a cooperative intelligence partner of Washington in the “war on terror”

Sudan is also subject to comprehensive economic sanctions since 1997 over terrorism charges as well as human right abuses. Further sanctions, particularly on weapons, have been imposed since the 2003 outbreak of violence in the western Darfur region.

Officials in Khartoum complain that Sudan’s intelligence cooperation with Washington did not reflect on the status of their bilateral relations.

They also express disappointment at what they describe the U.S. failure to keep its promises to improve ties with Khartoum after the latter signed the U.S.-brokered Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with South Sudan in 2005 and later recognized its independence under the deal.