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US special envoy makes surprise stop in Khartoum

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August 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration met today with 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha in Khartoum and presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen.

Yesterday the assistant US Secretary of State Philip Crowley told reporters that Gration has no plans to travel to Khartoum or Darfur during his visit.

Last week the head of the US bureau at the Sudanese foreign ministry Nasr Al-Deen Wali said that Gration will meet in Khartoum with Taha and then fly Juba and Malakal in South Sudan and Al-Fasher in Darfur to inspect IDP camps.

Earlier today Gration told reporters after meeting with Sudan First Vice President Salva Kiir that the US is leaning towards “smart sanctions” that grants exceptions to items needed for development in the semi-autonomous South.

The sanctions "have kept southern Sudan from getting the development that they so desperately need," said Gration, sitting alongside Kiir.

The US special envoy in his testimony before lawmakers last month called for lifting sanctions on Sudan and removing it from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

Gration stressed that the decision to keep Sudan on the terrorism list was “political” one and that the sanctions were undermining his diplomacy.

In his meeting with Al-Deen, the US official was quoted by the official news agency as saying that the sanctions “caused humanitarian and health problems that the Sudanese people have suffered from,”

This week the US announced that its comprehensive policy review of Sudan that will determine its conflict resolution strategy for the largest country in Africa will be completed this month.

The release of the long awaited policy review was delayed by behind the scenes divisions within the Obama administration on the balance between the use of sticks and carrots with Khartoum.

The US is concerned that the unraveling of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) will mean a return to civil war and killing hope of resolving a separate crisis in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

(ST)

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