Saudi Arabia calls on US to remove Sudan from ‘terror list’
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia called on the United States to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The United States in December lifted Sudan from a blacklist for religious freedom violations but Khartoum awaits the bigger prize of removal from the terror list. The designation has severely impeded investment in the country, which is emerging from decades of autocratic rule and conflict.
Saudi media said January 22 that Saudi State Minister for African Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan met with US Envoy to Sudan Donald Booth and “stressed to Washington the necessity of lifting Sudan from the terrorism list.”
State broadcaster Al Ekhbariya reported that Kattan emphasised “Saudi Arabia’s support for Sudan’s security and stability.”
Washington has included Khartoum on its list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993 on charges of collaborating with Islamic extremist groups, notably al-Qaeda.
Sudan’s Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir maintained ties with radical Islamist organisations and hosted militant figures suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. Al-Bashir was pushed out of office by the Sudanese military during months-long protests last year.
In 2017, the United States lifted trade sanctions imposed on Sudan a decade before but kept Khartoum on its terrorism blacklist alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria.
Last October, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to discuss the lifting of the US measures.
Sudan has sided with Riyadh against Shia Iran and provided troops to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s war against Tehran-backed Houthi rebels.
After al-Bashir’s removal, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates promised to send $500 million to Sudan’s central bank and $2.5 billion to provide food, medicine and petroleum products.
Sudan could soon be included on another problematic US list: that of countries whose citizens barred from entering the United States.
US President Donald Trump said January 22, without giving details, the US travel ban list would soon include more countries. A source familiar with the draft proposal told Reuters the tentative list of countries included Sudan along with Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria and Tanzania.
A senior Trump administration official said countries that failed to comply with security requirements, including biometrics, information-sharing and counterterrorism measures, faced the risk of limitations on US immigration.
Under the current version of the ban, citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as some Venezuelan officials and their relatives, are blocked from obtaining a large range of US immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
(Associated Press and Reuters)