Sudan’s PM Sees Progress on Terror List Removal

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said Thursday he saw progress on removing his nation from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism as he paid a landmark visit to Washington.

Hamdok, who has embarked on ambitious reforms and peace initiatives since his transitional government took over in August after decades of military rule, is the first leader of Sudan to visit Washington since 1985.

Washington agreed Wednesday to restore full diplomatic relations after more than two decades but still classifies Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“Over the last two to three days here in Washington, the elephant in the room is the issue of the delisting of Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism,” Hamdok said at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.

Hamdok said the blacklist had an impact not only on investment but on efforts to relieve Sudan’s debt and to usher in a broader “opening” of the country.

He said the discussions were “progressing very well.”

“We’re making progress on this, and we hope we’ll be able to reach a conclusion,” he said.

US officials, while voicing support for Hamdok, say that removal from the list is a legal process that requires a formal review over a six-month period.

Sudan was put on the list in 1993 after it welcomed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

“When it comes to the claims, we are also, as a nation, victims of terrorism inflicted on us by the former regime. But we accepted this,” Hamdok said of the lawmakers’ demands.

Former ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled in April by the military, which itself gave way in the face of mass protests led by young people concerned about poor economic opportunities.