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U.S. diplomat meets opposition alliance ahead of talks on Sudan removal from terror list

September 26, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum Wednesday met with the Sudanese opposition alliance in London to discuss the peace process before the resumption of dialogue process between the two countries on Sudan removal from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

Since 2011 after the independence of South Sudan, Washington and Khartoum are engaged in a process aiming to lift sanctions and to remove it from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

The engagement includes also the Darfur crisis and the armed conflict in the Two Areas which started weeks before the South Sudan secession and added to the process besides democratic reforms.

While the process achieved significant progress in term of cooperation on counter-terrorism, regional issues and humanitarian assistance, the negotiations between the opposition and the government are stalled over many issues even if Washington brought the parties to cease hostilities.

In a statement released Thursday from London, the Sudan Call alliance, which gather armed and political groups, disclosed that a delegation chaired by its leader Sadiq al-Mahdi met with Ambassador Steven Koutsis in London upon his request to discuss their position on the peace talks and democratic process.

The statement further said he informed them about the upcoming launch of the second phase of dialogue on the normalization process which includes Sudan’s removal from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

The opposition "took note of the position of the United States of America and its vision of the nature of bilateral relations, stressing that the planned discussions should not ignore the interests of the Sudanese people in a just and comprehensive peace, complete democratic transformation, respect for human rights in the country and guarantee public freedoms," said the Sudan Call in its statement.

Furthermore, the opposition delegation which included delegates from the various factions handed over to the ChargĂ© d’affaires a written note reflecting the position of Sudan Call on the current political and economic issues in the country.

The negotiations for peace and democratic reforms in Sudan is mediated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) chaired by President Thabo Mbeki.

The two-tracks process is deadlocked for several reasons related to the huge gaps in the positions of the parties and the split of the SPLM-N. Also, the mediation is blamed for holding "seasonal meetings" in a process that has begun since four years in its current form. Up to 2014, the process was only on the South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflict.

In October 2017, Washington ended the economic sanctions on Sudan after a five-track engagement before to conclude the first phase of dialogue.

The second phase should focus on human rights, freedoms, peace and democratic reforms. Recently, the American administration insisted, particularly on the religious freedoms.

On Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan met with Sudanese Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The meeting "discussed the strengthening of U.S-Sudan relations, expanding counterterrorism cooperation, addressing human rights, including religious freedom and humanitarian access, and bringing peace to neighbouring South Sudan," said a statement released by the State Department on Thursday.

"The United States will remain focused on achieving an end to conflict, supporting an inclusive national political process, and creating an environment for political reform and economic development in Sudan,". further said the State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert.

(ST)