Sudan welcomes Mike Pompeo’s remarks on terror designation
Former president Omar Al Bashir sheltered Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and provided support for bombings
Khartoum has welcomed remarks last week by the US Secretary of State that it should be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Mike Pompeo had previously said the State Department hoped to remove the designation, which severely impedes investment in Sudan, but disputes arose over a compensation package for victims of the bombings of two US embassies.
On Thursday, however, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the country’s transition towards civilian rule was an opportunity for change.
Sudan’s state-run news agency, Suna, reported on Saturday that Khartoum’s transitional Cabinet had affirmed its readiness to work with the US on the delisting.
Mr Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that legislation on a settlement should come before Congress “in the very, very near term”.
“I think lifting the state sponsor of terrorism designation there if we can ... take care of the victims of those tragedies would be a good thing for American foreign policy,” Mr Pompeo said.
He said the fall of long-time dictator Omar Al Bashir in April 2019 and the subsequent government of civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, in place since last August, was “an opportunity that doesn’t come along often”.
“There’s a chance not only for a democracy to begin to be built out, but perhaps regional opportunities that could flow from that as well,” he said.
Al Bashir welcomed Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden to Sudan and the country was accused of helping militants who blew up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing 224 people and injuring about 5,000 others.
Sudan’s new government has agreed to provide compensation but a dispute has arisen over a decision to award higher payments to Americans than to Africans, who comprised most of the casualties.
Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat known for his interest in Africa, urged Mr Pompeo to “do everything you can” to support Mr Hamdok and seize the chance “to build a new democratic partner in the region”.
Updated: August 2, 2020 12:36 PM