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Sudan Hopeful of Improved Relations with Washington

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, hosts a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010. Hague used this month's British presidency of the UN security council today to

A senior member of Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) has welcomed as a positive step a decision by the U.S government to move ahead in normalizing ties with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s administration.

This came after Khartoum allowed a recent referendum that will determine the future of the semi-autonomous south Sudan.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid told VOA the U.S government is yet to keep its previous promises to normalize relations with Khartoum.

Dr. Rabie Abdelati Obeid is a prominent member of Sudan's dominant National Congress Party (NCP)
Dr. Rabie Abdelati Obeid is a prominent member of Sudan's dominant National Congress Party (NCP)

“We hope that this time the United States administration should fulfill their promise, as we have seen before, after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the year 2005, when they witnessed that agreement signed by the two partners, the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) and the NCP,” said Obeid.

“They said immediately after signing the CPA, and after starting (its) implementation, they will lift Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and that they will normalize relations with the Sudan government and lift sanctions, and also help Sudan financially to reconstruct the areas destroyed during the war period. But, they didn’t do anything.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti in Washington Wednesday. Secretary Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. willingness to take steps toward normalizing relations with Khartoum, as it meets its commitments under the peace agreement and finds a resolution to the separate conflict in the troubled Darfur region.

Obeid said the NCP hopes that the U.S administration will keep its word by removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He denied Sudan is a state sponsor of terrorism.

“We are committed to the CPA and, according to the CPA, we are supposed to accept the results of the referendum, whenever this referendum is conducted freely and without any rigging. According to statements by international organizations (who) observed the referendum, they said that the referendum was conducted with a high degree of transparency,” Obeid said.

“I think that we have no intention of rejecting the results of the referendum. This acceptance is a commitment to the CPA that secession or unity is an option of the southern people to either opt for secession or unity.”

The United States has offered Sudan a range of incentives if it peacefully accepts the results of January's referendum, which is likely to lead to independence for southern Sudan. They include improved relations, lifting sanctions and dropping Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Partly because it gave refuge to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during the late-1980s, Sudan is among countries listed by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism and is subject to U.S. sanctions.

However, U.S. officials in recent years have credited Sudan with active cooperation in combating terrorism.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday that removing Sudan from the terrorism list will begin after the referendum results are finalized.