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US, Sudan to Exchange Ambassadors for First Time in 23 Years

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok meets with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 4, 2019.

The United States and Sudan will exchange ambassadors for the first time in more than two decades, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

The announcement came as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was on his first visit to Washington.

"This decision is a meaningful step forward in strengthening the U.S.-Sudan bilateral relationship, particularly as the civilian-led transitional government works to implement the vast reforms," Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo said the two countries would begin "the process of exchanging ambassadors after a 23-year gap."

During his Washington visit, Hamdok sought support for Sudan's transition toward democracy after strongman Omar al-Bashir was ousted this year after 30 years of rule.

Hamdok hopes to secure Sudan's removal from the U.S. "state sponsor of terrorism blacklist," on which Sudan has been listed for more than 25 years.

Pompeo lauded Hamdock for creating a civilian cabinet and vowing to hold democratic elections after the transition period.

The U.S. closed its embassy in Khartoum in 1996, citing terrorism concerns.

The U.S. reopened the embassy in 2002, but it has been led by a charge d'affaires instead of an ambassador who has been confirmed by the Senate.