A senior U.S. official revealed in Khartoum on Thursday that the country is considering removing Sudan from its blacklist of “state sponsors of terrorism.” As a sign of goodwill to Washington in return, Sudan said it was ready to cut ties with North Korea.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said: “We are prepared to continue discussions with the government of Sudan on this issue… and to engage with them on all that would be required to have them removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.”
The current blacklist includes Sudan, Syria, and Iran.
Sullivan is on a two-day visit to Khartoum to discuss human rights and religious freedoms in the African country. Sullivan is the highest-ranking official from Trump’s administration to visit Khartoum since the U.S. lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo on October 12.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said the lifting of sanctions by the U.S. was a “crucial step” to improve Sudan’s ties with Washington. Ghandour also assured Sullivan that Sudan will cut ties with North Korea by ensuring they will have no trade or military relations with Kim Jong-un-ruled country. He also urged North Korea to remain free of nuclear weapons.
Ghandour also gave assurances that Khartoum is committed to following all resolutions passed by the UN Security Council against the isolated North Korea.
Sudan and North Korea have no diplomatic relations for years but have engaged in military ties.
In spite of the good talks between the U.S. and Sudan and the promise of improved relations, Sullivan took the opportunity to express America’s concerns over the human rights and religious freedom record of Sudan.
Rights groups and advocates have accused Sudan’s security forces of abuses like arbitrarily detaining journalists, opposition politicians, and human rights defenders.
Washington first imposed financial sanctions on Khartoum in 1997 under suspicions that it is supporting Islamist military groups. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden used to live in Sudan between 1992 to 1996.