Sudan readies financial normalization ahead of removal from US blacklist

Khartoum, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Sudan’s transitional government said Tuesday that moves were under way to re-establish international financial links once the United States formally removes the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“There are communications with Citibank to reopen its branches in Sudan soon,” Finance Minister Heba Mohamed Ali told a press conference, adding that the administration was also in contact with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund about aid.

She spoke a day after President Donald Trump announced that the US would drop Sudan from the blacklist once Khartoum paid $335 million in promised compensation for victims of al-Qaeda terror attacks.

Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok said late Monday night that the money had already been transferred and the head of Sudan’s central bank, Mohamed al-Fatih Zainelabedine, subsequently confirmed that the payment went through.

The removal from the terrorism list will allow Sudanese institutions to maintain “banking relations with Western banks, and especially the US and European banks,” the finance minister said.

More importantly, she said, Sudan will be able to benefit from World Bank programs for the poor countries, “which could help the country with $1.7 billion annually.”

Ali said Khartoum will also gain access to an IMF mechanism that can make it easier to manage Sudan’s $60 billion in sovereign debt.

Sudan was placed on the US terrorism blacklist in 1993 for harboring al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and seemed fated to remain in Washington’s bad books until April 2019, when strongman Omar al-Bashir was toppled amid mass protests.

At the end of last year, the US agreed to remove Sudan from the list if Khartoum met two conditions: cooperate in the fight against terrorism and compensate victims of al-Qaeda’s 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the assault in 2000 on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemeni waters.

The caretaker government denied reports that linked the US move with Sudan’s agreeing to follow in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain by establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.

“We say loud and clear that the removal of Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism is not related to any other issue,” Foreign Minister Omar Qamaraldin said Tuesday.

Hamdok told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Aug. 25 that the transitional government did not have the power to make a decision about relations with Israel. EFE


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