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Sudan’s al-Bashir suspends sanctions talks with U.S. Administration


July 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Wednesday has issued a decree to freeze all negotiations with the United States on the normalisation of bilateral relations until 12 October, in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s decision to delay the permanent lift of economic sanctions on Sudan.

On 13 January, former U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to ease the 19-year sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the East African nation.

Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. The process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in Darfur region, the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

After the 90-day postponement by President Trump on Tuesday, the State Department announced a number of additional conditions citing human rights, religious freedom practices and commitment to UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea. Initially, the human rights and freedoms were considered for the second phase of talks after the lift of embargo.

"President of the Republic Marshal Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir today issued a republican decree ordering to freeze the work of the negotiating committee with the United States of America until 12 October 2017," reads a laconic statement released by the official news agency SUNA.

The suspension was decided following a series of meetings, al-Bashir held with the senior members of his government.

It is not clear if the decision includes the cooperation between the CIA, FBI and the NISS, or not. Also, the Sudanese army recently started to cooperate with the United States Africa Command, (U.S. AFRICOM), one of six of the U.S. Defense Department’s geographic commands.

It is noteworthy that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer had earlier warned against escalating rhetoric against the U.S. if Washington decides to not lift the sanctions permanently.

In an interview with Al-Shorooq TV on Sunday, Omer urged to deal carefully with the sanctions file, saying the government should continue its efforts to convince the U.S.
Administration and influential pressure groups of the importance of lifting the sanctions and its adverse impact on the Sudanese.

Sudan has been subject to comprehensive economic sanctions over terrorism charges in 1997 and additional sanctions related to the situation in Darfur region in 2006 and 2007.

Also, the East African nation was placed on the US terrorism list in 1993 over allegations it was harbouring Islamist militants working against regional and international targets.

UNJUSTIFIED DECISION

For his part, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has expressed regret over the U.S. decision to delay the lifting of sanctions, describing the decision as “unjustified”.

He stressed that all U.S. agencies besides the European Union and the United Nations acknowledged that Sudan has met its commitment towards all issues included in the five-track engagement process.

The top diplomat added that Sudan’s looks forward to seeing these “unjust sanctions” lifted fully, expressing hope that the decision would be reversed.

Ghandour held unnamed pressure groups of seeking to influence the sanctions file, saying these groups have benefited from the embargo and the war in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“These groups continued to raise slogans and [issue] outdated reports and sometimes we see funny and fabricated reports,” he said.

(ST)