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Pompeo says Sudan could be off terror list in October if Senators back negotiated deal


September 19, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. Secretary of State urged the Senate to endorse legislation to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunities adding that its removal from the terror list could intervene next October after the signing of a claims agreement with the East African country.

Pompeo speaks to the media in August 2019 (Reuters photo)In a strongly worded letter to the Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell on 16 September disclosed by The Foreign Policy on Friday, Michael Pompeo sought to mobilise support to rescind Sudan’s state sponsor of terrorism designation.

"I m asking for your help to partner with the Department to seize these opportunities by including the bipartisan Sudan legal peace legislation drafted by Senator Chris Coons in the upcoming Continuing Resolution," he said.

He further asked them to enact legal peace legislation restoring Sudan’s sovereign immunities "no later than mid-October in order to ensure that payment of compensation to victims can occur as soon as Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation is rescinded".

The decision to remove Sudan from the blacklist will be issued by the president, but Sudan’s sovereign immunity before the U.S. courts should be restored by the Congress.

On Friday, the Sept. 11 attacks’ 19th anniversary, Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced his opposition to the deal reached by the Sudanese government with the victims of embassies bombing.

"I have urged the State Department to reconsider its deal and to do better," he said and announced that he would not endorse the agreement because it ignores the claims of the victims of September 11 attacks.

According to the Wall Street Journal of Wednesday, the draft peace legislation restoring Sudan’s sovereign immunities, prepared by Senator Coons who is also a Democrat, will allow the 9/11 victims to sue Sudan under the same legislation they are using to sue Saudi Arabia for backing the attacks. Also, it extends past 2030 a federal program, the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, that provides compensation to them and other terrorism victims.

In his letter to the Senate, Pompeo said that the victims will not receive the money, $335 million, before the adoption of the legislation by the Congress.

Also, he recalled the U.S. national security interests require to avoid the failure of the fragile transition in Sudan stressing that could easily result in the emergence of anther Islamist regime and the eruption of war again.

"I strongly encourage (the) inclusion of Sudan legal peace legislation in the Continuing Resolution. The Administration also supports this legislation as an anomaly," he stressed.

The U.S. top diplomat said the signing of the bilateral claims agreement and rescission of Sudan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation "could be met by the end of October".

He confirmed that Sudan now has collected the needed money to pay agreed-upon compensation to the victims of the terror attacks and the murder in Khartoum of USAID employee John Granville on 1 January 2008.

The WSJ said the Sudanese transitional government got a loan from a regional African bank to pay the proposed settlement.


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