French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that France will press to drop Sudan from the US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism and to support efforts to reintegrate the country into the international community.
Le Drian was in Khartoum for a one-day visit, the first such trip to Sudan by France’s top diplomat in more than a decade.
His visit comes as the country transitions to civilian rule after decades of authoritarianism.
“We will use our influence to ensure that Sudan is removed from this list,” Le Drian said at a joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart Asma Mohamed Abdalla after the two held talks.
“It is the way to ensure that we can consider a new relationship (for Sudan) with financial institutions, everything is obviously linked,” he said, asked by reporters if France would back efforts to remove Sudan from Washington’s blacklist.
Decades of US blacklisting along with a trade embargo imposed on Sudan in 1997 has kept overseas investors away from the country, in turn isolating it from the global economy.
Sudan’s worsening economic situation was the key trigger for nationwide protests that finally led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.
Washington lifted the sanctions in October 2017, but kept Sudan in the terrorism list along with North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Washington’s measures were imposed for Khartoum’s alleged support for Islamist militant groups.
Al-Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden resided in Sudan between 1992 and 1996.
Le Drian said the pivotal role played by Sudan’s army in the uprising against Bashir would help in removing Sudan from the US blacklist.
“The way the army perceived its role during this period, (that) goes in the direction of removing Sudan from this list,” he said.
The army overthrew Bashir in a palace coup on April 11 on the back of months of nationwide protests.
But a military council seized power after ousting him and for months resisted calls from protesters to transfer it to a civilian administration.
Only last month after sustained agitation, a joint civilian-military sovereign council was sworn in to oversee Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, the key demand of protesters.
On September 8, Sudan’s first cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was sworn in to run the daily affairs of the country.
During his short visit to Khartoum, Le Drian also met Hamdok and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the civilian-military ruling council.
Le Drian also reiterated French support for Sudan’s priorities such as rebuilding the economy and striking peace agreements with rebel groups in conflict zones of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.