Khartoum says nearing deal with Washington on reparations

With a deal finalised, Khartoum will be better placed to say to Washington “let’s end this once and for all” and lift Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, said the Sudanese foreign minister.
Friday 25/09/2020
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Omar Qamareddin (left) attend a meetings at the foreign ministry headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on September 14. (AP)
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Omar Qamareddin (left) attend a meetings at the foreign ministry headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on September 14. (AP)

GENEVA–Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Qamareddin said Thursday that a compensation agreement for the families of victims of two 1998 attacks on US embassies in Africa is within sight.

“We are very close to getting that signed and done with,” Qamareddin told reporters during a visit to Geneva to meet United Nations officials on refugees and human rights.

“As Sudanese we think that if we can do it yesterday, it is better for us, because we can move on to something else.”

Qamareddin stressed that he was not aware of any deadline set by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, although the US administration is pressed for time ahead of the November 3 presidential election.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Sudan’s Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Khartoum on August 25. (AFP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Sudan’s Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Khartoum on August 25. (AFP)

With a deal finalised, Khartoum will be better placed to say to Washington “let’s end this once and for all” and lift Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, he added.

On Wednesday Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said that his country had raised the necessary funds to compensate families of victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. According to US media, Sudan agreed to pay $335 million.

Hamdok, quoted by state news agency SUNA, also said that “the passing in the US Congress of the law granting Sudan immunity from all further (legal) processes is the sole outstanding point” before the compensation deal is implemented.

The US sanctions — a source of an investment drought for the country — date back to 1993, when Sudan under president Omar al-Bashir was outcast for having hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The crisis worsened with the 1998 embassy attacks which killed more than 200 people.

Since then, the African country has been restricted from receiving much-needed global assistance. Its delisting is widely expected in the next few weeks, according to four people with direct knowledge of the plan by the US State Department.

Washington has changed its tone in recent years, as Bashir began to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and played the peace game in South Sudan.

The United States reconnected with Khartoum under former president Barack Obama, and talks have been moving towards striking Sudan from its blacklist.

Sudan map

The 2019 revolution that swept Bashir from power sped up the progress.

“Now we are to get ourselves out of that list, which the United States is using as leverage to get some benefits of the relationship that it has with Sudan, which is completely legitimate,” Qamareddin said.

“That is why we are engaging with the rest of the world and trying to call on the country’s friends to call on the United States to end that embargo and to get Sudan lifted off the ‘state sponsors of terrorism’,” he said.