In a sign of improving relations between Washington, D.C. and Khartoum, Sudan appointed veteran diplomat Noureldin Sati its first ambassador to the U.S. in 25 years.
The U.S. and Sudan agreed to improve ties following the fall of former leader Omar al-Bashir’s government in April 2019, according to The New York Times.
That development made way for a new transitional government that came into power in August 2019.
In February, Sudan’s leadership agreed that Al-Bashir should face genocide and war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.
Al-Bashir is accused of crimes against humanity in a conflict that broke out in Darfur in 2003, leading to the deaths of 300,000 people, AlJazeera reported.
Sati previously worked as Sudan’s ambassador to France in the 1990s, according to BusinessInsider. He also served in United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
In December 2019, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C., and agreed to exchange ambassadors, AlJazeera reported.
It is not clear when the U.S. will appoint its ambassador to Sudan. The U.S. diplomat that is expected to be stationed in Khartoum will need to be nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
The Trump administration is considering removing Sudan from the U.S. blacklist of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism if Sudan agrees to pay reparations for victims of terrorism.
Sudanese foreign minister Asma Mohamed Abdalla met with David Hale, the No. 3 official at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. in mid-January to discuss losing its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Sudan has been on the list of countries that the U.S. considers supporters of terrorism since it granted safe haven to Osama bin Laden in 1993.
In February, Sudan agreed to compensate the families of U.S. sailors killed in an al-Qaeda attack on U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbor in 2000, according to the BBC.
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If Sudan is removed from the terrorism blacklist, it can apply for much-needed debt relief funding from international lenders including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, both of which are based in Washington, D.C.
Much of Sudan’s distressed debt dates back to a state-guaranteed loan issued in 1981 as part of a debt restructuring agreement with a principal of $1.64 billion, Reuters reported.
The Sudanese government defaulted on that debt and analysts estimate the amount due including nearly four decades of unpaid interest amounted to around $7.99 billion in 2019.