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Washington, Khartoum to form joint group for banking reform in Sudan

February 15, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Head of the economic section at the U.S. embassy in Sudan, Leah Severino, has revealed that talks are underway between Washington and Khartoum to form a workgroup to develop Sudan’s banking sector.

U.S. embassy in Khartoum

On Thursday, Severino met with the director of the Savings and Development Bank (SDB) branch in El-Fasher, capital of North Darfur State, Mohamed Doka Ahmed.

Ahmed briefed the U.S. official on the SDB’s projects and services in North Darfur, saying the bank provides funding for the small producers and supports them to become entrepreneurs.

He pointed out to a number of projects funded by the SDB including in agriculture, livestock and education sectors, stressing the strong cooperation between the bank and its clients.

For her part, Severino expressed her appreciation to the SDB’s services, underscoring readiness to cooperate with the bank to ensure the success of the projects contributing to the development of the local economy.

On the other hand, the director of the Central Bank of Sudan branch in El-Fasher Abdel-Aziz Ahmed Abdel-Rahman said banks in North Darfur aim to assist the residents to address the adverse effects of the war and reduce unemployment rate.

In October 2017, the U.S. Administration permanently lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan citing positive actions on humanitarian access and counter-terrorism.

The decision was in line with the "Five Track Engagement Plan", in which Khartoum agreed to a cessation of hostilities with the armed groups, opened unfettered humanitarian access in the conflict-affected areas, agreed to support efforts for peace in South Sudan and developed cooperation with the U.S. to counter terrorism in the region.

However, Washington didn’t remove Sudan’s name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. In addition, it keeps in place targeted sanctions against individuals with arrest warrants related to atrocities committed during the conflict in Darfur.

Last November, Sudanese foreign minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan started talks in Washington on the normalization of bilateral relations and the removal of his country from the terror list which is the major obstacle in this respect.

At the time, sources close to the talks told Sudan Tribune that the two sides agreed to develop a new plan labelled the “five-track engagement +1” to say it would include important parts of the previous five-track engagement that led to the lift of the economic sanctions.

The sources further pointed out that the focus in the new plan will be on the human rights and freedoms particularly religious freedom.

“So, this time Washington wants Khartoum to observe the international law and principles on this respects but also to amend its repressive and coercive laws,” the sources said.