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Trump plans to remove Sudan from list of state sponsors of terrorism

People wave flags of Sudan defaced with the logo of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of rebel signatories to a historic peace deal, during a reception ceremony in Sudan's capital Khartoum on Oct. 8, 2020 upon the arrival of the government negotiating team from Juba where the government and rebel groups had earlier signed the deal. Sudan's government and rebel groups had on Oct. 3 signed a peace deal at a ceremony in the South Sudanese capital Juba, aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands have died. (Ebrahim Hamid/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

President Donald Trump said he intends to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism after the African nation agreed to make a long-sought payment to American terror victims and their families.

Trump said his decision came after Sudan accepted a proposal to pay $335 million in compensation to the families of Americans killed in the bombing of the USS Cole and earlier bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Other lawsuits around Sudan’s link to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks are ongoing.

The move _ which requires congressional notification but not approval _ may also help clear the way for Sudan’s government to enter into talks for an agreement recognizing Israel, following the Jewish state’s accords this year with Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

Sudan is one of just four nations on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror, along with Iran, North Korea and Syria. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, four years after listing the country ruled by then-President Omar al-Bashir as a sponsor of terrorism for sheltering al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Al-Bashir was ousted in 2019.

Sudan has been easing away from its pariah status with the U.S. for years. Trump lifted an array of restrictions in 2017, though he kept the nation on the terror list. In recent years, U.S. officials have cited Sudan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and its moves to allow humanitarian groups into conflict areas.

In September, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited the country and the country’s interim president urged him to go ahead with a delisting.

Sudan’s transition government has made progress recently in settling a conflict in its western region of Darfur and two southern border states. Abdul-Fattah Al-Burhan, the president of Sudan’s transitional Sovereign Council, signed a pact with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front in neighboring South Sudan this month.

Sudan’s new leaders _ a mix of civilians and army officials _ have rebuilt relations with the West, committed to free elections in 2022 and signaled they’ll separate religion and state, effectively ending 30 years of Islamist-inspired rule.

The fighting in Darfur began in 2003 when insurgents took up arms accusing the government in Khartoum of neglecting the region. Authorities unleashed a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, with as many as 300,000 people killed and 2.5 million forced from their homes due to the violence, according to United Nations estimates.


(c) 2020 Bloomberg News

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