(Agencies) - The United States lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan on Friday, a U.S. official said
, citing progress on counter-terrorism and improvement on human rights.
In a move that completes a process begun by former President Barack Obama at the end of his tenure and which was opposed by human rights groups, President Donald Trump removed a U.S. trade embargo and other penalties that had effectively cut Sudan off from much of the global financial system.
The decision to lift the sanctions and end an economic embargo against Sudan comes after the Trump administration last month removed it from the list of countries whose citizens are subject to travel restrictions. Sudan was the only country that was removed.
The change reflects a strategy shift in how to bring about reforms in Sudan, where President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has clung to power since taking office in a military coup in 1989. Instead of relying solely on the punishment of sanctions, the new strategy is to use relief as an enticement to encourage more changes.
The sanctions relief also was part of a push to enlist more countries in an effort to isolate North Korea diplomatically. A State Department official said that while it was not an explicit condition, Washington told Khartoum that an “absolute, vital part of the relationship” going forward is full compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions related to North Korea.
The lifting of sanctions rescinds measures imposed in 1997 related to terrorism concerns and others put in place in 2006 in connection with the conflict in Darfur. The sanctions were temporarily eased in January just before President Barack Obama left office, citing the same progress the Trump administration noted. In July, President Trump extended the review for three months, angering the Sudanese who stopped some lower-level meetings with U.S. officials in retaliation, but maintained contacts between senior officials.
The State Department official said Sudan has cooperated in countering militants inside Sudan and throughout North Africa, by helping deter attempts by terrorists to transit through the country.
U.S. officials also have seen progress on the humanitarian front. The government has announced unilateral cease-fires in areas where the Sudanese army has been fighting rebels, and created more access for humanitarian aid to get to displaced civilians.
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