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Saudi Arabia renews call for Sudan to be removed from US terror blacklist

Kingdom, along with Egypt and France, has called on Washington to remove Khartoum from list of state sponsors of terrorism
Sudan is on US terror list along with Syria, Iran and North Korea (AFP/File photo)

Saudi Arabia asked the United States to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, almost 27 years after Khartoum was blacklisted over allegations it was harbouring members of al-Qaeda and other armed groups.

SPA, the kingdom's official press agency, reported on Wednesday that Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Qattan, minister of state for African affairs, requested that Sudan be taken off the blacklist during a meeting with Donald Booth, the US envoy to Sudan.

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Qattan was reported to have highlighted Riyadh's support for Sudan's "stability and security" and stressed "the necessity of coordination and cooperation with all friendly regional and international countries," SPA said in a news release.

Sudan has been on Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993 over allegations that then-president Omar al-Bashir's government was supporting terror organisations.

Bashir was toppled by the military last year, but the country remains on the list along with Syria, Iran and North Korea.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France have all pressed Washington to remove Sudan from the list.

The United States did not comment on Booth's meeting with Qattan, but the US congress would have to approve Sudan's removal from the blacklist. 

The designation makes Sudan technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, but initiatives to move Sudan towards declassification have been in the works for months.

Removal would potentially open the door for foreign investment.

Curtail the Muslim Brotherhood

Since Bashir's ouster, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have poured millions into Sudan and already delivered half of $3 billion in aid they promised.

A civilian transitional government, formed in August, agreed with the United States that it could start engaging with international institutions while still on the blacklist. 

Saudi Arabia supported the overthrow of Bashir, in what analysts believed reflected its coordinated efforts with the United Arab Emirates to curtail the regional influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, who supported his government.

Sudan plays a key role in the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, siding with Riyadh against Iran and providing troops in the Saudi-led coalition's war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Since he was sworn in, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has repeatedly pushed for udan's removal from the US blacklist, making it one of his first foreign policy moves.

"Let me be clear, the Sudanese people have never been sponsors or supporters of terrorism. That was the former regime - which the people rebelled against - that supported terrorism," Hamdok said in September during an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"These sanctions have caused tremendous suffering to our people," he continued. "Therefore, we call on the United States to remove Sudan from the list of state-sponsors of terror."