Sudan Says Deal Reached With Families Over USS Cole Attack

(Bloomberg) --

Sudan said it reached a settlement with families of the victims of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, as part of its campaign to persuade the U.S. to remove its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

An agreement was signed with the families Feb. 7, the Justice Ministry said Thursday in a statement that didn’t specify the compensation. WTKR-TV, a Virginia-based broadcaster, reported late Wednesday that Sudan agreed to settle the case for about $30 million, which would be split between the families of the 17 sailors killed.

Al-Qaeda claimed the attack on the U.S. warship in the port of Aden and Sudan was accused of providing support. The North African nation, then led by Omar al-Bashir, was designated a terrorism sponsor in 1993 by the U.S., which later imposed crippling economic sanctions that lasted until 2017.

Bashir, who ruled for three decades, was overthrown by the army last April after months of mass protests. The deal is the transitional government’s latest bid to regain international respectability as it seeks to rebuild an economy ravaged by mismanagement and the secession of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011.

Sudan’s government “wishes to indicate that the settlement agreement explicitly affirmed that the government is not responsible for this incident or any other terrorist incidents or acts,” the Justice Ministry said.

“It entered into this settlement to settle the historical allegations of terrorism left by the former regime, and only for the purpose of meeting the conditions set by the U.S. to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to normalize relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world,” it said.

Sudan’s continued listing -- alongside Syria, Iran and North Korea -- has prevented any serious foreign investment even after the sanctions were lifted, according to the country’s new rulers, who have campaigned vigorously for its removal.

Sudan’s foreign and justice ministries didn’t immediately respond to requests for more details.

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