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Saudi Arabia vows to continue efforts to lift U.S. sanctions on Sudan

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends a news conference after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, April 26, 2017. (Reuters)
July 19, 2017 (RIYADH) - Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Tuesday said his country would continue its efforts to improve Sudan’s relations with the United States and to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan.

The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for the second leg of an Arab Gulf tour that also took him to the UAE.

Last week, al-Bashir decided to suspend the participation of his government in a joint committee on the permanent revocation of sanctions in response to a decision by President Donald Trump to postpone his decision on the embargo for three months.

However, he agreed to a Saudi request to continue positive engagement with the U.S. administration and its official agencies for the permanent lift of economic sanctions on Khartoum.

In a joint statement with his Sudanese counterpart at the end of al-Bashir’s visit to Riyadh Tuesday, al-Jubeir said they believe that Khartoum made significant progress to lift the economic sanctions and remove its name from the U.S. list of states sponsors of terror.

“We would continue our efforts in coordination with our brothers in Sudan and other brothers in the region to find a solution to return this situation to normal so that Sudan could focus on development, economy and prosperity,” he said.

Last January, former U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order easing the 19-year Sudan sanctions on a probationary basis. The sanctions relief was to become permanent on 12 July unless the U.S. Administration acted to stop it.

On 12 July, Washington said it needs to discuss with Khartoum the human rights situation and religious freedom in the east African country, besides its commitment to UN sanctions on North Korea.

It is noteworthy that Sudan was placed on the U.S. terrorism list in 1993 over allegations it was harbouring Islamist militants working against regional and international targets.

Despite intense lobbying by Khartoum, the U.S. administration kept Sudan on the terrorism list drawing frustration and rebuke from Sudanese officials.

Ahead of President Trump’s decision on sanctions relief on 12 July, the U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said her country has no plans to remove Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

“I can tell you one thing, and that is the designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terror will remain,” she said.

COMBATING TERRORISM

Meanwhile, al-Jubeir said the talks between King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with President al-Bashir on Tuesday have dealt with regional developments and ways to combat extremism and terrorism.

“The two countries are key partners in the Islamic [military] alliance to fight terrorism and extremism and partners in the coalition to support the legitimacy in Yemen and the two countries are also partners in the work to combat extremism and terrorism financing,” he said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt severed ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting Islamist terrorist groups and arch-foe Iran. But Doha vehemently denies the charges.

Sudan is among the Arab states that refused to take part in the ongoing diplomatic crisis and declared its support for the Kuwaiti efforts to settle the rift.

(ST)