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Sudan expects a “breakthrough” in relations with Washington: FM

May 25, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Ghandour has expected a breakthrough in relations with Washington and vowed to resolve security issues with neighbouring countries.

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John Kerry (R) shakes hands with the Sudan’s FM Ibrahim Ghandour as they pose for photos at the Palace Hotel in New York, October 2, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Stephanie Keith)

Ghandour, who spoke in his ministry’s regular media forum Wednesday, described the United States as “friend and foe”, saying the latter has imposed an unjustified and unjust sanctions on Sudan.

He stressed however that the dialogue between Khartoum and Washington wouldn’t stop, saying his government will “knock on all doors until they open up”.

The top diplomat added that Washington’s hostile attitude towards Sudan is unjustifiable, pointing to the great efforts made by his government to achieve peace in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

He further pointed that the sanctions would be “eroded” if the U.S. didn’t lift it.

“I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the relationship between Sudan and the U.S. and I expect that relations between Khartoum and Washington would experience a breakthrough,” he said.

Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. In 2007 it strengthened the embargo, citing abuses in Darfur which it labelled as genocide.

Also, Sudan has been on the US list of countries supporting terrorism since 1993, for allegedly providing support and safe haven for terrorist groups.

Sudan says Washington didn’t honour its pledges to lift Sudan from the United States list of state sponsors of terrorism after the independence of South Sudan and kept sanctions for political reasons.

But Washington says Khartoum has to end the armed conflict in South Darfur and Blue Nile states and to settle Darfur crisis.

AFRICAN, ARAB AND NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES

Meanwhile, Ghandour said his ministry seeks to resolve Sudan’s problems with neighbouring countries in order to maintain secure and evolving ties with them.

He pointed that relations with Ethiopia and Eritrea have reached the stage of full coordination besides the continuous coordination with Chad and Central African Republic (CAR), saying they are keen to maintain special ties with South Sudan.

Ghandour also underscored his government keenness to maintain peaceful relations with Libya, pointing to Khartoum’s support for the legitimate and internationally recognized government headed by Faiz al-Siraj.

He said that Sudan is among the few countries that didn’t close down their embassies in Tripoli.
The top diplomat further revealed that the Libyan foreign minister would visit Khartoum soon to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Libya’s internationally recognised government has persistently accused Sudan of providing weapons to Islamist militias in collaboration with Qatar.

Concerning the Sudanese-Egyptian relations, Ghandour emphasized that Halayeb is a Sudanese territory, saying the dispute over the triangle wouldn’t adversely impact on the strategic relations between the two countries.

The Sudanese top diplomat pointed to the improving foreign relations with the African countries and described it as “distinguished”.

He said the African nations have rendered their support to Sudan in various issues including the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan by Washington and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC has two outstanding arrest warrants against President Omer al-Bashir since 2009 over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict.

The Sudanese top diplomat added that Sudan is part of a large Arab coalition, saying his government enjoys strong ties with its brotherly Arab nations who support his country in all crucial issues.

EUROPE, LATIN AMERICA AND CHINA

Ghandour said the Sudanese-European relations have recently witnessed remarkable openness following his meeting with a number of European Union (EU) officials in Brussels.

“There is a remarkable openness [in relations] … I’m not saying that our relations with Europe are excellent but the icebergs between us and some of the European countries have begun to melt and we only have to swim towards each other,” he said.

However, the top diplomat pointed to various obstacles that hinder improvement of ties with some of the European countries particularly Britain, saying Sudan’s relations with the latter is not as desired.

He further mentioned the good relations with Italy, Germany and Australia, saying they intended to open a consulate in Sydney to serve more than 35,000 Sudanese nationals residing there.

Ghandour also pointed to Sudan’s keenness to maintain good ties with Latin American countries, saying they intend to open embassies in Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina.

He described his country’s relationship with China as strategic, pointing to Beijing’s support for Sudan in the UN Security Council as well as its leading role in the Sudanese economy.

UNITED NATIONS

Meanwhile, Ghandour pointed to Sudan’s important role in the regional and semi-regional organizations, saying they sought to strengthen foreign relations via 83 consulates and embassies around the globe.

He attributed the recent decision to not renew the stay permit of the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum Ivo Freijsen to the latter’s lack of coordination with the government and his incorrect reports on the situation in the country.

“This UN official (Freijsen ) has said that Sudan is experiencing a famine … have you heard about a famine in the country?” he wondered.

“Despite the fact that this UN official has distorted Sudan’s image, he wasn’t expelled but [we] refused to renew his stay permit,” he added.

Earlier this week, the UN said the Sudanese authorities declined to renew a permit for the head of OCHA, saying he was being effectively expelled from the country.

Concerning the UN resolution 2265, Ghandour said the resolution pertains to the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring Darfur’s sanctions, saying it continued to be renewed annually since 2005 however Britain and the US attempted this year to propose some items to prevent the export of gold from the region.

He said the experts leaked the report to a US magazine before it is being presented to the Security Council in order to exert further pressures on Sudan, pointing that China, Russia, Egypt, Venezuela, Senegal, Angola and other nations voted against the proposal.

On 10 February 2016, the Security Council approved the resolution 2265 and renewed until 12 March 2017 the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions imposed on those behind instability in Darfur.

The mandate of the Panel, supports the implementation of the resolution 1591 (2005) imposing an arms embargo on the warring parties in Sudan and sanctions on (assets freeze and a travel ban) on designated individuals.

On the other hand, Ghandour renewed his government’s demand for the exit of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), saying the region is currently enjoying peace and stability.

He pointed that Burkina Faso has ordered to withdraw its troops from the mission following a similar decision by South Africa.

(ST)