Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said that the round of talks between Khartoum and Washington in November would tackle four main issues, including the removal of his country from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, debt forgiveness, the file of the criminal court and Sudan’s entry into international trade, stressing continued Saudi support for Sudanese efforts in this regard.
In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Ghandour highlighted his country’s commitment to defend Yemen’s legitimacy and the security of Saudi Arabia, emphasizing continuous cooperation between the Kingdom and Khartoum on pressing issues.
Asked about the outcome of the recent visit of President Omar al-Bashir to Riyadh, the Sudanese foreign minister said that the two leaders have discussed bilateral relations and issues of mutual interests, especially the situation in the Arab world and Saudi Arabia’s support for efforts to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
On his participation in the Riyadh meeting of foreign ministers and chiefs of staff in the Arab coalition for the support of Yemen’s legitimacy, Ghandour said: “The meeting was very important in terms of timing for consultation and dialogue on many pressing issues, foremost of which is to emphasize the achievement of the coalition’s objective to support legitimacy in Yemen.”
He underlined the need to hold regular meetings at the level of experts and ministers in order to monitor and follow up latest developments and take the appropriate decisions.
Ghandour said he proposed the adoption of a joint media plan to inform the public opinion of the coalition’s objectives and activities and to define it as an international system seeking to achieve security and stability in Yemen.
“At the Sudanese level, we have reaffirmed our commitment to work, within the coalition forces, towards the consolidation of legitimacy in Yemen, and to defend Saudi Arabia against any threat, because Khartoum’s security is the security of Riyadh and vice versa,” he stated.
Asked about the new round of American-Sudanese dialogue, which will kick off in November in Washington, the foreign minister said that four main topics would be tackled, including the removal of Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.
“Every year, the CIA reiterates that Sudan is the most cooperative country in the fight against terrorism; the CIA director announced on June 15, 2016, via satellite channels, that Sudan does not sponsor terrorism, so America knows that Sudan is not linked to terrorism,” Ghandour stressed.
He added that the other files to be negotiated included debt forgiveness, the criminal court and Sudan’s entry to international trade.
“It is time for Sudan to regain its economic, political and security well-being. It will continue to work towards regaining its normal status on the regional, Arab and international levels, hoping that it would be removed from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism and exempted from its debts, which have exceeded $48 billion,” the Sudanese official said.
When asked how his country could overcome the economic blockade, which has made it lose around $500 billion, Ghandour said: “When some people talk about Sudan’s loss of $500 billion due to the economic blockade, or over $400 billion, according to others, try to imagine how the state, under this great loss and the blockade, was able to withstand the economic situation and to provide the basic necessities for its people.”
The Sudanese foreign minister said his country was determined to complete the privatization project.
He noted in this regard that instead of selling to the private sector, Sudan was seeking to establish joint stock companies, adding however that privatization that took place in the previous phase has achieved a lot of successes in several aspects.
Ghandour stressed that Sudan was the second Arab country after Kuwait to use the mobile phone, thanks to privatization.
“Many might ask how the communication sector could overcome the obstacles of the economic blockade? It was because Siemens was operating in Sudan for a long time, and then Chinese companies such as Huawei and others entered the market. In 2014, Huawei and ZDT faced major pressure,” he said.