Home | News    Thursday 30 July 2020

Pompeo says U.S. prepared to deltist Sudan if terror victims compensated

July 30, 2020 (WASHINGTON) - The U.S. Thursday gave the clearest signal to date of Washington’s desire to remove Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism this year if Khartoum manages to settle claims related to 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo

U.S. courts have held Sudan liable for the bombings because it hosted members of al-Qaeda terrorist groups in the years preceding the attack.

Despite multiple judgements handed against Sudan for billions of dollars, the East African nation was able to forge a tentative settlement agreement, with the help of the US state department, that would see it pay out hundreds of millions instead.

The impoverished nation is struggling nonetheless to come up with the money and is seeking help from other nations for the payout.

Sources say these efforts have so far proved futile.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers today that closing this case would pave the way for delisting.

"I think lifting the state sponsor of terrorism designation there if we can... take care of the victims of those tragedies would be a good thing for American foreign policy," Pompeo said during a hearing in the Senate foreign relations committee.

The top U.S. diplomat characterized the ongoing transition in Sudan to a democratic rule as
"an opportunity that doesn’t come along often".

"There’s a chance not only for a democracy to begin to be built out but perhaps regional opportunities that could flow from that as well," he added.

Pompeo also disclosed that legislation related to the proposed settlement between Sudan and victims of the 1998 bombings will be tabled before the Congress "in the very near term".

The proposed law would reinstate sovereign immunity on Sudan so that it is protected from any future terror-related claims.

Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat known for his interest in Africa, implored on Pompeo and the U.S. administration "to do everything you can to support the prime minister and to make sure that we seize this opportunity to bring real justice to the victims and their American families and foreign nationals involved and to build a new democratic partner in the region".

The senator said he is working alongside other members of the committee to resolve the terrorism claims against Sudan.

The ranking Democratic member of the committee Robert Menendez is reportedly opposed to the proposed settlement insisting that more money must be allocated to non-Americans.

The spokeswoman for the Families of the Americans Killed in Nairobi Edith Bartley called Menendez’s stance a “travesty”.

“It would be a travesty for any member to block the passage of this agreement over compensation levels,” Bartley wrote in a June 4 letter to the powerful Democrat.

Yesterday the ranking Republican on the house foreign affairs committee Michael McCaul expressed support for the settlement.

The New York Times reported that State Department officials pushed back against calls for higher payments and said that given its financial fragility, Sudan could not afford to pay more than $335 million and that the United States was not required to compensate the international victims.

They said even the lower payments provided some recognition to those who were killed or wounded simply because they worked for the American government.

(ST)