US offers Sudan 'terror list' deal
If Sudan's January referendums go smoothly, the US has offered to drop it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2010 03:16 GMT
Abyei's leaders have failed to reach an accord with Khartoum on where Abyie's borders should lie [Reuters]

The United States will drop Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as July 2011 if Khartoum ensures two key referendums take place on schedule in January and the results are respected.

Unnamed US officials told Reuters on Sunday that Barack Obama, US president, made the offer through Senator John Kerry, who recently told Sudan's leaders the US was ready to "decouple" the issue of Darfur from Khartoum's terror designation to win cooperation on the January polls.

"We like to consider this a pay-for-performance operation," one official said.

Kerry, the powerful Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made two trips to Sudan in recent weeks and carried Obama's latest offer to Khartoum this past weekend, the officials said.

They emphasised that separate US sanctions imposed on Sudan over Darfur would remain until Khartoum makes progress in resolving the humanitarian situation in its troubled western region.

But the officials also held out hope that the offer to end the isolation imposed on Khartoum by its inclusion on the US state terror list would persuade the Sudanese government to begin making the necessary concessions to allow the January votes to proceed as scheduled.

Tense referendums

Sudan's two parallel referendums on January 9 could see southern Sudan secede to become Africa's newest state and decide whether the disputed oil-rich territory of Abyei joins the north or the south.

Around 100 people were killed in the May 2008 clashes between northern and southern forces and 50,000 fled their homes.

An estimated 8,000 have returned as reconstruction work has seen Abyei only recently get its first tarmacked street, electricity pylons alongside its straw huts and the reopening of its clinic.

The plebiscites were promised under a 2005 peace deal which ended Sudan's long civil war.

But preparations are badly behind schedule and the two sides continue to disagree on Abyei, raising fears the region could tip back into violence if the votes are mishandled.

Isolating Sudan

The US, which has stepped up its diplomacy in Sudan, wants to see the votes occur peacefully and all related issues, including deals on future citizenship and the sharing of oil revenues, resolved soon.

The state department added Sudan to its state terror list in 1993, accusing Khartoum of harbouring local and international militants including for a time Osama bin Laden.

Sudan is one of four countries on the list along with Cuba, Iran and Syria. The designation carries sanctions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defence exports and sales and a raft of restrictions on financial and other dealings.

Officials say Khartoum has been pushing hard for the US to remove it from the list, as Washington did in prior years with both North Korea and Libya.

Obama's offer moves up by at least six months the date by which Khartoum might come off the list. But the US officials emphasised a final decision would still be contingent on Sudan halting all sponsorship of terrorism for at least six months before the July 2011 target date and pledging not to resume such assistance in the future.

Separate US sanctions imposed over Darfur - which Obama extended for another year on November 1 - would remain until Khartoum improved conditions in the region, where the United Nations estimates up to 300,000 people died following a revolt in 2003, they said.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
join our mailing list