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Sudan signs deal with families of USS Cole bombing victims

Khartoum agrees to pay compensation to victims' families in exchange for removal from US terrorism list
Sudan's transitional government has said the country's economy has been stunted because of US sanctions (AFP)

Sudan said it would pay compensation to the families of sailors killed in the USS Cole bombing 20 years ago, as a pre-condition for removing the country from a United States terrorism list. 

State News Agency SUNA said the settlement was signed on 7 February but refused to disclose the amount paid to the victim's families. 

Anonymous sources, however, told CNN and Reuters that the amount settled was $30 million. 

Negotiations between Sudan and the US have been ongoing for months, according to officials,  and compensating the victims of the USS Cole attack had been a key condition imposed by the Trump administration. 

Sudan's justice ministry said the deal was signed with the victims' families as part of government efforts to remove Khartoum from the terrorism list. 

"The deal clearly specifies that the government of Sudan was not responsible for the incident or any such terrorist incident and it is doing this deal only to... fulfil the condition put by the American administration to remove Sudan from its terrorism list," the ministry said in a statement.

USS Cole attack aftermath 

In 2000, a small rubber boat filled with explosives blew up next to the USS Cole after it stopped in Aden, Yemen, to refuel, killing 17 American soldiers and the two perpetrators. 

Al-Qaeda claimed the attack, which proved to be a propaganda victory for the group and its founder Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

Following the attack, a US court ruled that Sudan, where the two bombers had been trained, was responsible for the attack, but Khartoum has long denied the claims.

In 2012, a Washington judge ordered Sudan to pay more than $300 million to the victims' families. Other judges went on to order certain banks to make Sudanese assets available to start paying the sum.

Sudan's transitional government has said the country's economy has been stunted because of US sanctions, which has deterred global investors. 

In 1993, Washington placed Sudan on its terrorism watchlist for its support of militant groups. Bin Laden used the country as a training base between 1992 to 1996. 

But in October 2017, the US lifted its trade embargo imposed on Sudan, but kept the country on the terrorism blacklist.