Sudan’s acting foreign minister said Thursday that a compensation agreement for the families of victims of two 1998 terrorist attacks on US embassies in Africa is within sight.
“We are very close to getting that signed and done with,” Omar Gamaledinne told reporters during a visit to Geneva to meet United Nations refugees and human rights chiefs.
“As Sudanese we think that if we can do it yesterday, it is better for us, because we can move on to something else.”
Gamaledinne stressed that he was not aware of any deadline set by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, although the US administration is pressed for time ahead of the November 3 presidential election.
With a deal finalized, Khartoum will be better placed to say to Washington “let’s end this once and for all,” and lift Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, he added.
The sanctions — source of an investment drought for the country — date back to 1993, when Sudan under president Omar al-Bashir become an outcast for having hosted Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The crisis worsened with the 1998 embassy attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed more than 200 people.
Washington has changed its tone in recent years, as Bashir began to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and played the peace game in South Sudan.
The United States reconnected with Khartoum under former president Barack Obama, and talks have been moving towards striking Sudan from its blacklist.
The 2019 revolution that swept Bashir from power sped up the progress.
“Now we are to get ourselves out of that list, which the US is using as leverage to get some benefits of the relationship that it has with Sudan, which is completely legitimate,” Gamaledinne said.
“That is why we are engaging with the rest of the world and trying to call on the country’s friends to call on the United States to end that embargo and to get Sudan lifted off ‘state sponsors of terrorism’,” he said.
Gamaledinne said that without a compensation deal, subsequent Sudanese governments could find themselves embroiled in court cases that could drag on “indefinitely.”
His plan would see Khartoum pay into a blocked account from which the funds would only be paid under certain conditions — including Sudan’s removal from the blacklist — to the United States to compensate the plaintiffs.
US media cited the total amount as being $335 million.