USA permanently lifts trade sanctions on Sudan

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The United States is preparing to lift the decades-long economic sanctions on Sudan after it has seen improvements in the country's human rights and progress in counter-terrorism measures, a U.S. official said yesterday.

"We will not necessarily take the government at their word", one official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress has yet to be notified.

According to Nauert, the United States action "came about through a focused, 16-month diplomatic effort to make progress with Sudan in these key areas". But the decision effectively ends a 20-year USA economic embargo against Sudan.

Human rights groups opposed the deal but it was a process that was started under former President Barack Obama.

Sudan has previously accused Egypt of opposing the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Sudan over the conflict in its western Darfur region.

Still, the USA has sought to strengthen Sudan's ability to address profound security challenges in a hard region in which many of its neighbors are deeply unstable.

Egypt's endorsement of the USA move came in a Saturday statement by its foreign ministry. Business with oil and gas industries in Sudan, such as pipelines and oil field services, will be permitted.

Sudan routinely shows up as a country of particular concern on State Department reports assessing human rights and religious freedom. However, some sanctions will remain, and the country will continue to be on the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. Temporary sanctions relief took effect immediately, and was to become permanent in July unless the Trump administration acted to stop it.

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The decision will contribute to enhancing stability and development in Sudan after a long time suffering from the consequences of sanctions, said Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman in a press statement. That three-month extension is set to expire on October 13 if further action isn't taken to keep sanctions in place.

It will also mark a major turnaround for the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

John Prendergast, founding director of the Enough Project, a human rights group focused on African conflict zones, called for targeted, financial sanctions that would spare ordinary Sudanese yet maintain pressure on Khartoum in order to achieve human rights improvements.

Two weeks ago, Sudan welcomed the U.S.' decision to remove it from the list of countries whose citizens are banned from entering the U.S.

Cairo has repeatedly denied claims that it supported a continuation of sanctions, despite mounting tensions between Egypt and Sudan this year, with media outlets in both countries exchanging attacks.

The UN said earlier this year that it backed an end to the sanctions and hoped the U.S. would make a "positive decision" allowing for more humanitarian aid access across war zones. And several dozen US lawmakers had urged Trump to delay a final decision by a full year.

Bob Goodlatte noted Sudan's "historical support of worldwide terrorism" and argued the USA must first secure commitments that American victims and their families will be compensated.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for President al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes and genocide in his drive to crush the Darfur revolt.

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