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United States (US)


  • President: Barak Obama (Democrat) 2009-Present
  • Vice President: Jo Biden (Democrat) 2009-Present
  • Secretary of State: Hilary Clinton (Democrat) 2009-Present

US Presidents 1977 onward

Sudan - US Relations

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FILE PHOTO - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti on January 26, 2011 (Getty)

The Obama administration had indicated that it would consider the partial lifting of sanctions and should Sudan facilitate South Sudan’s referendum on independence in January 2011 and abide by the result.

Sudan, was the first nation to recognise South Sudan’s after it gained independence in July 2011 but the outbreak of fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile that year caused Washington to further its demands, to the anger of Khartoum. The Obama administration has also demanded that humanitarian access be granted to rebel held areas.

US-Sudan Links

South Sudan - US Relations

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Barack Obama meets with the South Sudan president, Salva Kiir Mayardit. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Despite South Sudan president Salva Kiir sending a congratulatory cable to his United States counterpart Barack Obama on his re-election for a second and last term in November 2012 some South Sudanese officials had privately expressed hope that the US Republican challenger Mitt Romney would beat Obama.

The Obama administration made its top priority to ensure the success of the referendum that took place in January 2011 by which South Sudanese were to decide on whether they want to establish their own country or remain with the north as one nation.

The result of the vote came almost unanimously in favor of secession and Khartoum swiftly recognized the new state when it officially came into existence on July 2011. The peaceful divorce between North and South Sudan was hailed as an accomplishment of the Obama administration which went as far as promising Khartoum the partial lifting of sanctions in return for allowing the partition to take place without issues.

But relations between Washington and Juba has been marked by silent tensions as the former watched with dissatisfaction what they saw as bad decisions by the new state.

The first time the leaders of the two countries met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last year, Kiir was thirty minutes late according to a report that appeared on McClatchy Newspapers.

During the discussions Obama pressed Kiir on ending support for the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) rebels fighting Khartoum in the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Kiir denied backing the rebels, angering the White House, which had strong intelligence linking South Sudan’s army to the SPLM-N. Washington was concerned that the fighting could reignite the civil war which came to a halt in 2005.

Weeks later, during a follow-up phone call, Kiir again denied his military’s support for the rebels. The South Sudanese leader then followed up with a personal letter to Obama that a former US official familiar with its contents described as an "apology letter."

In that letter, Kiir wrote that he did know about his military’s support to the Sudanese rebels, but he could not admit that to Obama because his advisers were in the room and they did not know he was aware of that support. Kiir said he was working to lessen the support.

A former US official said the letter was received "incredibly poorly" by the White House. Things got worse when the US felt again it was lied to last April during an Obama-Kiir phone call following days of border clashes between South Sudan and Sudan.

In that call, Kiir told Obama that South Sudan would not send forces north to seize Heglig/Panthou, a Sudanese-controlled oilfield. Eight days later, South Sudanese forces overran the area and held Heglig/Panthou for 10 days amid international condemnation.

Juba has felt betrayed over what it perceived as bias in favor of Khartoum particularly during the sensitive oil negotiations that were aimed at restoring oil exports through Sudan. Because of a dispute on transit fees, Khartoum started seizing part of the oil to make up for uncollected duties. Juba retaliated by suspending suspended oil production altogether.

South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum singled out the US and UK for being critical of Juba regarding its oil shutdown decision.

"They never talked about it though they knew it was wrong. Sudanese government was practically stealing our oil but they continued to keep quiet....[rather than] asking Khartoum to pay back what it stole” Amum told reporters last August.

The US has also been pressing South Sudan both privately and publicly on issues of transparency, human rights, corruption and good governance.

US-South Sudan Links


Al Jazeera English | US trains Ugandan soldiers for AU mission | 2 May 2012

A volunteer force of US Marines has begun training Ugandan soldiers who are preparing to join the African Union mission in Somalia. The group regional forces will try to shut down armed groups in the East African nation.

White House | President Obama’s Message to the People of Sudan and South Sudan | 20 April 2012

Al Jazeera English | Inside Story - Is N Africa Al-Qaeda’s new front? | 12 Dec. 2007

Al Jazeera English | US searching for a home for Africom - 05 Dec 2007

Washington is searching for a home for its new military operations centre for Africa. But Africom’s - as its called - has been dogged by controversy, as Mohammed Adow reports from Djibouti.

Al Jazeera English | Inside Story - US/Sudan relations | 26 Aug 2007

A delegation of senior Sudanese officials are in the US for talks with their American counterparts. Inside Story asks if this is a new chapter or a compromise in US/Sudan relations.

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