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US delays decision on Sudan sanctions for three months


The United States on Tuesday postponed for three months a decision on whether to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan over its human rights record and other issues, the US State Department said.

In his executive order issued on Tuesday, President Donald Trump extended the deadline, saying “more time is needed” for review.

Khartoum expressed disappointment.

“We regret such a decision that came out after long negotiations between Sudan and the United States,” said Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.

“The United States, Europe, Africa and the international community admit that Sudan has fulfilled its commitments when it comes to the five tracks, which is why we don’t see any reason for extending the review period,” he said.

“But we are still hoping that the sanctions will be lifted permanently.”

The areas of concern — or “five tracks” — include giving more access to humanitarian workers in war zones, counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, an end to hostilities against armed groups in Sudan and halting support for insurgents in neighbouring South Sudan.

“I have decided more time is needed for this review to establish that the government of Sudan has demonstrated sufficient positive action across all of those areas,” Trump’s order said, adding that “the government of Sudan has made some progress”.

Former US president Barack Obama temporarily lifted sanctions for six months in January, suspending a trade embargo, unfreezing assets and removing financial sanctions.

A decision by Obama’s successor, Trump, about whether to make the relief permanent had been expected on Wednesday. In June, the United States said it was “very concerned” about Sudan’s human rights record.

Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir meanwhile issued a decree freezing the work of a committee formed with the United States to negotiate sanctions relief until Oct. 12, state news agency Suna said.

Sudan said on Tuesday it had complied with all US demands for lifting sanctions, which have been in place for 20 years and have hobbled the country’s economy.

The US State Department acknowledged in a statement that Sudan had made “significant, substantial progress in many areas,” but it said three more months were needed to establish that the country had fully addressed Washington’s concerns.

“The United States will revoke the sanctions if the (government of Sudan) is assessed to have sustained progress in these areas at the end of the extended review period,” the State Department said.

US demands include resolving internal military conflicts in areas such as war-torn Darfur and cooperating on counterterrorism.