Sudan Wants Improved Relations With U.S.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Sudan is looking for better relations with the United States. In particular, the Sudanese want to get off a terrorism blacklist.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
President Obama's administration set a price for that. The U.S. said Sudan could be removed from that list if it accepted a vote for independence by the south of the country.
INSKEEP: The vote came this month, and as we await the formal results, Sudan's foreign minister traveled to Washington. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.
MICHELE KELEMEN: As he prepared to meet Secretary Clinton, Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti went through some of the reasons he thinks his country should be taken off the U.S. terrorism list. Even recent State Department reports about Sudan, he says, prove there's no reason his country should be on it.
Mr. ALI AHMED KARTI (Foreign Minister, Sudan): From our part in Sudan, we had never done anything that harms the U.S. Why for should we be treated like this?
KELEMEN: Sudan was put on the list in 1993, when the U.S. accused it of harboring terrorists, including, for a time, Osama bin Laden. But recent State Department reports have said that Sudan has been cooperating on counterterrorism efforts. Foreign Minister Karti tells NPR that getting off the list would be a step toward more normal business and political ties with the U.S.
Mr. KARTI: Normalization itself will open doors for Americans to go to Sudan, see things with different eyes, and open doors for investments and everything. What's happening now from the World Bank and the IMF and others, they're all, you know, keeping away from Sudan just because U.S. has a different position.
KELEMEN: He argues that this issue should never have been connected to the North-South peace process. But the Obama administration did use it as leverage with Khartoum to make sure that the North kept its promises to allow a fair independence vote in the South. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to begin the process of removing Sudan from the list once the results are in from that referendum and once Sudan accepts the outcome.
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): The United States and many other nations were encouraged by the peaceful execution of the referendum in the South. And we hope to continue working with the government in Khartoum on the remaining issues, which are many.
KELEMEN: Her spokesman, P.J. Crowley, says while there was a spirit of cooperation in the meeting yesterday, building normal relations takes time.
Mr. P.J. CROWLEY (State Department Spokesman): We are poised to move ahead with the process of normalized relations, but there are a number of things that have to be done along the way.
KELEMEN: The conflict in the west of the country, in Darfur, which the U.S. called a genocide, is still unresolved, and the North and the South still have to negotiate several issues if the South is to become an independent state, including the borders and how to share oil revenues. As Sudan's Foreign Minister Karti points out, much of the country's oil is in the South, but the refineries and the port are in the North.
Mr. KARTI: We can discuss how can we benefit - both of us - from the oil that is coming from the South to the facilities throughout the North. This may be a blessing in itself. It may be one of the items that would connect South with North anyhow if there is any separation.
KELEMEN: The referendum results are expected in early February and the U.S. has promised to help South Sudan stand on its feet if it does, as expected, choose to become a new country.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
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