U.S. Ending Sudan’s Terrorism Listing Offers Economic Lifeline

Sudan hailed the U.S. vow to remove it from a list of nations sponsoring terrorism, a designation dating to Khartoum’s hosting of militants including Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s, as a watershed for an economy blighted by decades of sanctions and dictatorship.

Dropping the listing will allow the country to rejoin the global financial system, resolve its debts, attract investment and restructure the $19 billion economy, officials said Tuesday. The U.S. will provide an aid package including some funding, Finance Minister Heba Mohammed Ali told reporters, declining to give details, including on the amount.

President Donald Trump indicated Monday the move will happen soon, after authorities agreed to pay $335 million in compensation to victims and families of Americans killed in bombings in East Africa in the 1990s that Sudan under dictator Omar al-Bashir was accused of supporting.

The delisting, which requires U.S. congressional notification but not approval, has been keenly sought by the transitional government that took over after Bashir’s ouster last year. Economic troubles that began under Bashir haven’t let up since, with inflation topping 210% last month and persistent bread and fuel shortages.

The step will allow Sudan to begin discussing financial assistance with other global groups, including a possible $1.7 billion loan from the International Development Association, as well as resolve the country’s debts, which stand at about $60 billion, the minister said.

Sudan’s government, a leading member of which held a historic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda in February, has previously said the U.S. tried to link the discussions with the possibility of Sudan recognizing the Jewish state.

Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din told reporters at the same event that the U.S. terrorism decision wasn’t connected to any other issue. No government of Muslim-majority Sudan since independence in 1956 has had official ties with Israel.

Sudan is one of just four nations on the U.S. state sponsors of terror list, along with Iran, North Korea and Syria. The U.S. lifted two-decade old economic sanctions on Sudan in 2017.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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