Sudan has appointed its first ambassador to the United States, the first such envoy in more than 20 years.
Authorities in both countries had agreed to improve ties following the fall of longtime President Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown by the military in April last year in the wake of mass protests seeking civilian rule.
The foreign ministry of Sudan’s transitional government said on Monday it had chosen Nureldin Satti, a veteran diplomat, as ambassador in Washington, DC, and that US authorities had approved his nomination.
Satti served as Sudan’s ambassador to France in the 1990s and later worked with United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
A Department of State representative declined to provide any insight on plans to appoint a US ambassador to Sudan, saying there was no specific information on the timing but that the decision late last year to exchange ambassadors was “a historic step”.
In December, following a visit by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to Washington, DC, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the two countries would exchange ambassadors again after a 23-year absence.
The US diplomat would be nominated by President Donald Trump and needs to be confirmed by the country’s Senate.
Both countries had for almost a quarter of a century appointed only charges d’affaires, a diplomatic rank that heads an embassy in the absence of an official ambassador, to run their missions in Washington and Khartoum.
The US government added Sudan to its list of state sponsors of “terrorism” in 1993 over allegations that al-Bashir’s government was supporting armed groups, leaving Sudan ineligible for badly needed debt relief and financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Sudan is currently ruled by a transitional administration that took power in August last year. Hamdok’s government has sought to bolster its international standing and mend ties with the US, with Sudan’s removal from the US blacklist being one of its priorities.
The State Department representative declined to comment on where the talks are about Sudan being removed from the list but added that the two countries remain engaged in active discussions.
“Compensation for the victims of terrorism remains a priority for the US government. The United States and Sudan continue to engage regarding certain terrorism-related claims,” the spokesperson said.
In February, Khartoum agreed to compensate the families of US sailors killed in an al-Qaeda attack on US Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbour in 2000.
The US had for years accused Sudan of training and supporting the attackers. Sudan repeatedly denied the charges but agreed to the settlement in a bid to be removed from Washington’s “terrorism” blacklist.