KHARTOUM, May 1, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Sudan has to “terminate all business ties” with North Korea before any talks could begin for removing Khartoum from the US “terrorism” blacklist, a top US official said Monday.
Washington lifted its decades-old trade embargo imposed on Khartoum in October, but kept Sudan in its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, which Sudanese officials say makes international banks wary of doing business with Sudanese banks, and in turn hampers an economic revival in the African country.
Sudanese officials have been pushing to remove Sudan from the blacklist — which also includes North Korea, Syria and Iran — as they grapple with surging inflation, high debt and the loss of oil earnings.
But Washington insists Khartoum must provide a complete assurance it has cut relations with nuclear-armed Pyongyang, which rattled the international community last year with a flurry of nuclear and missile tests.
The US also wants Sudan to improve its record on human rights, religious freedom and other rights issues to take its negotiations with Khartoum to the next phase.
“Above all is the importance of terminating any business ties to North Korea,” a top US official familiar with Washington’s negotiations with Khartoum told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“There is lot more that we need to see in the way of evidence provided to us that the business has been terminated.”
“No more business, period. Give us the evidence that in fact you are stopping it. Thats what they have to do with us.”
Khartoum says it is committed to respecting all resolutions passed by the UN Security Council against North Korea.
“Sudan confirms it has no relations with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at any level,” the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Sudan and North Korea have had no diplomatic relations for years, but some rights and campaign groups allege that the two have engaged in military ties.
Washington imposed sanctions in 1997 over Sudan’s alleged support of Islamist militant groups.
After decades of strained diplomatic relations, ties between Washington and Khartoum improved under the presidency of Barack Obama, later resulting in the lifting of sanctions by his successor President Donald Trump last year.
Sudan’s overall economy was hit hard after the south separated from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75 percent of greater Sudan’s oil earnings.