UNSC Plans to Lift Sudan Sanctions This Month
The UN Security Council plans to lift its five-year-old sanctions on Sudan this month with the agreement of the United States, council president Jean-David Levitte of France said Wednesday.
Outlining the council's program of work, he told a news conference he had scheduled a September 17 meeting to adopt a resolution to remove the sanctions, said the UN news agency.
"We believe that the time has come, if possible, to lift the sanctions on the Sudan," said Levitte.
"The same objective stands regarding the arms sale embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
"We have undertaken discussions with our partners and we are going to try to obtain, on both of those situations, the adoption of two resolutions in the course of this month," he said.
At the same time, he stressed that the issues involved were "extremely sensitive and extremely difficult."
"It's a bit like a sea serpent when we talk about the Sudan situation," he said.
"As far as Yugoslavia is concerned, that's still in the troubled context of the Balkans region."
In Washington, a State Department official commented simply: "We are looking at [sanctions on Sudan]," according to AFP.
Other US officials said, however, that Washington was preparing an initiative to mediate between Sudan's government and Christian and animist groups fighting for autonomy in the south.
The plan, to include up to $30 million in humanitarian and relief aid, is to be led by former US senator John Danforth, who the officials said would be named Washington's point man on Sudan on Thursday.
"We are working on the Danforth announcement now and we are also looking to increase our assistance to Sudan," said one senior US official.
"It's no secret that Sudan is important to us and this initiative will demonstrate that," a second official said.
Levitte declined to comment on the apparent thaw in US-Sudanese relations, saying "the Security Council had no desire to get involved in this bilateral dialogue."
Agreement by the United States to lift the sanctions would indicate a shift in attitude towards Sudan, long branded by Washington as a rogue state and supporter of terrorism, according to AFP.
The Security Council imposed diplomatic sanctions on Sudan on April 26, 1996, in an effort to force it to extradite three people suspected of trying to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the previous year.
It also ordered member states to restrict the movement of Sudanese military and government officials, and in August 1996 it followed up with a ban on air traffic in and out of Sudan, but this was never put into effect.
Last year, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail wrote to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan saying official inquiries had shown that "no trace has been found of the three suspects in the Sudan."
The attempt on Mubarak's life was made on June 26, 1995, as he arrived in Addis Ababa for a summit of the Organization of African Unity.
Despite Ismail's letter, the United States thwarted efforts by African countries at the United Nations to have the sanctions removed – Albawaba.com
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