US 'ready' to lift decades-old sanctions on Sudan
The United States reportedly preparing to lift sanctions on Sudan, in response to the African state's alleged improvements on human rights and counter-terrorism, a US official said on Thursday.
The unnamed official, cited by Reuters, said that US President Donald Trump's administration may announce its decision on Friday, at the earliest.
The potential move would mark a huge turn in relations between the US and Sudan, which first had sanctions imposed on it by Washington in 1997.
Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, is known to have once hosted slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and is himself wanted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes charges.
Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989, is accused by the ourt of committing genocide in Darfur.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about Washington's softening stance towards Khartoum.
"It's a serious mistake for these sanctions to be lifted permanently when Sudan has made no progress on human rights," Andrea Prasow, deputy director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "A government that continues to indiscriminately bomb its own population and imprison human rights activists shouldn't be rewarded."
In its annual human rights reports, the US State Department has also continued to assert that Sudan's "authoritarian" government flouts the rule of law, attacks civilians in Darfur and other conflict zones, and lets its security forces commit abuses with impunity.
While the US has yet to comment on the matter, Sudan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hamed Momtaz, indicated to Reuters that an agreement has been reached with the US over the sanctions.
"Sudan has fulfilled all the necessary conditions relating to the roadmap, and the US administration is a witness to that and therefore we expect the sanctions to be lifted," Momtaz was quoted as saying.
The Trump administration in July set an October 3 deadline to decide whether to completely remove the sanctions.