The U.S. will reduce some sanctions imposed on Sudan, President Barack Obama has announced.
The White House said the move was intended to acknowledge Sudan’s efforts to reduce internal conflict, improve humanitarian access to people requiring aid and curtail “terrorism.”
The president signed an executive order implementing the measures on Friday. The move is being seen as an effort by Obama to strengthen ties with Sudan before he leaves office. The White House in a statement said the easing of sanctions will be delayed by 25 weeks in order to give further incentives to the Sudanese government to continue its reforms.
Obama said in a letter to members of Congress that sanctions introduced by President Clinton relating “to the policies and actions of the government of Sudan have been altered by Sudan’s positive actions over the past six months.”
Economic sanctions were imposed against the country after the state was labeled a “sponsor of terrorism.” The penalties being suspended could be re-imposed if Sudan were seen to backtrack on any progress. The actions recognized by the U.S. include the move by South Sudan to deny safe haven to South Sudanese rebels.
Despite the move by the outgoing Obama administration, Sudan is expected to remain on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. In 2009, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was indicted on war-crimes charges, the first to be issued by the International Criminal Court against a sitting president.
The U.S. foreign policy establishment has been split between those who advocate greater engagement with Sudan and those who believe it is morally wrong to deal with what they consider a genocidal regime.
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