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Sudan transfers compensation for US bombing victims

Cash-strapped country hands Washington $335m in order to be removed from the United States' terror list
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdock in August (AFP)

Sudan on Tuesday announced it had transferred the compensation agreed to pay US victims of militant attacks, paving way for the country to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Central bank governor Mohamed al-Fatih Zainelabidine told a news conference that the payment of $335m has been been transferred, a day after US President Donald Trump said his administration would remove Sudan from the list in return for the cash. 

Acting Finance Minister Hiba Mohamed Ali said in Tuesday’s news conference that Sudan needed to accelerate the adjustment of its foreign exchange rate.

Zainelabidine said local banks would restore correspondence relations next week following the US move.

The Sudanese pound has fallen on the black market to 220 versus the dollar, while the official exchange rate is around 55. But since the US announcement on Monday the pound has gained from 250 the day before on the black market.

Major step for economic revival

The terror designation has been in place since the early 1990s, when now-ousted President Omar al-Bashir hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The cash-strapped country continues to suffer under heavy economic sanctions.

Khartoum's removal from Washington's State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list is a major step in Sudan's efforts to reintegrate into the international community after last year's uprising toppled longtime leader Bashir.

The monetary compensation would go to the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on the USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 off the coast of Yemen.

The attacks in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 220 people, including US citizens and locals who worked at the embassies. In 2000, two suicide bombers targeted the USS Cole, killing 17 service members.

All three attacks were claimed by al-Qaeda. In subsequent years, Khartoum faced lawsuits in the US accusing the Sudanese government of harbouring the al-Qaeda operatives who planned and carried out the bombings.

The remaining countries on the US's terrorism list are Iran, North Korea and Syria.