US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday he wants to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, seeing a historic opportunity in its civilian transition.
Pompeo has repeatedly indicated that the State Department hopes to remove the designation, which severely impedes investment to Sudan, but disputes have arisen on a compensation package over the 1998 bombings of two US embassies.
Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that legislation on a settlement should come before Congress “in the very, very near term.”
“I think lifting the state sponsor of terrorism designation there if we can… take care of the victims of those tragedies would be a good thing for American foreign policy,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said that the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir following mass protests and the nearly year-old government of a civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, marked “an opportunity that doesn’t come along often.”
“There’s a chance not only for a democracy to begin to be built out, but perhaps regional opportunities that could flow from that as well,” he said.
Bashir had welcomed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Sudan was accused of aiding jihadists who blew up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring around 5,000 others.
Sudan’s new government has agreed to a compensation package but a dispute has arisen over higher payments to Americans than to Africans, who accounted for the vast majority of the casualties.
Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat known for his interest in Africa, urged Pompeo to “do everything you can” to support Hamdok and seize the chance “to build a new democratic partner in the region.”