Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Tuesday sharply criticized the US and Western policies in the region, saying his country would not link its fate to any party.
His comments were made after the official announcement of the beginning of the second phase of the Sudanese-US dialogue aimed at removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The US embassy, for its part, confirmed Tuesday Washington’s seriousness in removing Sudan from the terror list, provided that it is committed to the recently announced “5+1” plan.
Addressing the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) in Kosti, White Nile State, Bashir demanded the US to stop any assistance rendered to his country, saying Sudan would “take refuge in Allah [God] alone”.
“We wouldn’t kneel or prostrate to anyone except Allah … Sudan is the most country being targeted and fought against because of its adherence to Sharia [Islamic Law] and independent decision,” he added
Sudan is still strong despite the dire circumstances compared to other nations in the region that have been destroyed by wars and conflicts, he added.
In October 2017, Washington decided the lift of a 20-year embargo on Sudan, saying Khartoum has fully cooperated on five key areas of concerns agreed in December 2016.
These areas include counterterrorism cooperation, humanitarian access to the conflict areas, and Sudan’s support to regional efforts to end the South Sudanese conflict and to fight against the Ugandan rebel Lord Resistance Army. In July 2017, Trump administration added the commitment to the international sanctions on North Korea.
Meanwhile, US Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis held a news conference on the second phase of dialogue between Sudan and the US
According to a press release from the US embassy, Koutsis said: “The completion of the Five-Track Engagement Plan and the lifting of certain sanctions in October 2017 marked an important milestone in US-Sudanese relations”.
“However, our progress thus far serves as only the first step in a long road to improving bilateral relations,” he said.
“We have therefore launched the ‘Phase II’ framework for our bilateral engagement, which is designed to expand our cooperation, facilitate meaningful reforms in Sudan and achieve further progress in a number of areas of longstanding mutual concern,” added the US envoy.
He pointed out that the second phase “has the potential to make the US-Sudan relationship more productive than it has been in 30 years,” adding that Washington “remains committed to positive engagement with Sudan and to achieving our shared goals on the basis of mutual understanding and respect.”
According to Koutsis, the shared second phase priorities between the two sides include expanding counter-terrorism cooperation, enhancing human rights protections and practices, improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan, ceasing internal hostilities to create a conducive environment for progress in Sudan’s peace process, taking necessary steps to address certain outstanding terrorism-related claims and adhering to UN Security Council resolutions related to North Korea.
“As part of this engagement, the United States is prepared to initiate the process of rescinding Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism — if the determination is made that all of the relevant statutory criteria have been met, and if Sudan makes progress in addressing each of the six key areas of mutual concern prioritized by the Phase II framework,” he stressed.