Trump announces intention to remove Sudan from list of terrorist sponsor states

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” Good news! Sudan’s new government, which is making great strides, has agreed to pay $ 335 MILLION to victims and families of US terrorism. Once tabled, I will remove Sudan from the list of sponsor states for terrorism. Finally, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG not for Sudan! He tweeted.

Behind the scenes, the Trump administration lobbied for the transitional government in Sudan, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, to normalize relations with Israel. Such a move would present Trump with a foreign policy victory just weeks before the election.

The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a team of international negotiators from the White House and the State Department had taken the initiative to negotiate these agreements between Israel and a number of countries, including Sudan, Oman and Morocco. , according to people. familiar with the talks, and their efforts so far have resulted in two successful deals – with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

During a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Khartoum in late August, the two discussed revoking the terrorism designation, but Hamdok appeared to reject the potential for normalizing relations with Israel, saying the government of transition did not have the power to pursue such a change.

Senior government sources in Sudan told CNN that the rebranding was a requirement of Hamdok before normalization talks could take place.

Prime Minister Hamdok insisted during negotiations with the United States that the removal from the list should not be linked to normalization, as Sudan has met all the criteria for its removal. Now that the designation has been changed, discussions can begin again on standardization. The rebranding was our priority and standardization is theirs, ”a source said.

Sudan has been on the list of terrorist sponsor states since 1993, and it is one of four countries designated as such. Iran, North Korea and Syria are also listed. As a result, Sudan faces a series of restrictions, including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign aid.

Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a military coup in April 2019 after three decades in power.

With the nation under a transitional government, Pompeo expressed support for Sudan’s delisting with certain preconditions.

“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come up often. We all know the history of Sudan and the tragedy that reigns there, ”Pompeo said during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the end of July. “There is a chance not only for a democracy to start to be built, but perhaps regional opportunities that could arise as well. I think removing the designation of the sponsor state of terrorism there, if we can take care of the victims of these tragedies, would be good for US foreign policy. ”

The State Department declined to comment on Trump’s announcement on Monday, although the top US diplomat in Khartoum praised the Sudanese government and its people for the news.

“This will be a crucial step in the advancement of US-Sudanese relations and we hope to pave the way for a new engagement of the international community,” Chargé d’affaires Brian Shukan wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Over 200 people were killed and thousands injured in 1998 when two Al Qaeda bombings rocked US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Sudan, under al-Bashir’s leadership, housed Osama bin Laden and was found to have helped al-Qaeda operatives. The United States and Sudan have reached an agreement in which the latter would pay $ 335 million to compensate survivors and the families of the victims.

Edith Bartley, spokeswoman for families of Americans who were killed in the embassy bombings, said in a statement Monday that she welcomed the announcement.

“The escrow fund established by this agreement, once released to the victims, will fulfill a long-standing commitment made first by President Bush, honored by President Obama, and now affirmed by President Trump, to condition normalization to compensation for survivors and families of those who have been lost in acts of terror. In doing so, we are defending the sacrifice of our diplomats abroad, ”she said.

CNN’s Vivian Salama, Nima Elbagir and Yassir Abdullah contributed to this report.

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