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US receives $335m from Sudan as compensation for militant attacks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he hopes payments for victims' families would start a 'new chapter' between Khartoum and Washington
Hamdok (MEE)
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is leading the transitional government in Sudan in a power-sharing agreement with the military (MEE/File photo)
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The United States has received $335m from Sudan as compensation for the victims of attacks that Washington links to Khartoum, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday.

The top US diplomat said he hoped resolving the claims by the victims would pave the way for a "new chapter" in relations between the two countries.

"We look forward to expanding our bilateral relationship and to continuing our support for the efforts of the civilian-led transitional government to deliver freedom, peace, and justice to the Sudanese people," Blinken said in a statement.

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Washington's confirmation of receiving the funds comes more than five months after Khartoum had said it authorised the transfer.

A State Department spokesperson told MEE that the funds paid by Sudan were in an escrow account before they were released earlier this month.

"Achieving compensation for victims of terrorism has been a top priority for the US government," the spokesperson said. 

"On March 11, $335 million previously provided by Sudan was released from escrow to the United States to resolve claims held by these victims. We hope the compensation provided by Sudan aids them in finding some resolution for the terrible tragedies that occurred."

Sudan had separately paid $72m to the USS Cole victims' families in a private settlement.

Blinken said the funds covered bombings of US embassies in East Africa in 1998, the bombing of the USS Cole ship in 2000 and the killing of American diplomat John Granville in Khartoum in 2008.

Al-Qaeda had claimed the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 220 people, as well as the USS Cole suicide bombing that resulted in the death of 17 American service members.

Granville, who worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was fatally shot with his driver during a visit to Sudan early in 2008. A Sudanese government sentenced four people to death in 2009 over the murder.

"With this issue now behind us, we continue to support an expanded bilateral relationship," a State Department spokesperson told MEE on Wednesday.

US-Sudan rapprochement

The $335m settlement is a fraction of the billions of dollars the victims' families were seeking in US courts.

Washington had long accused the Sudanese government of providing essential support to al-Qaeda when Osama bin Laden was based in Sudan between 1992 to 1996.

After the toppling of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, a transitional government with both civilian and military leaders has been trying to repair ties with the United States.

Late last year, the administration of former President Donald Trump removed Sudan from the State Department's list of State Sponsor of Terrorism, and Congress passed a law restoring the country's sovereign immunity, which shields it from being sued in American courts. 

The State Department certified restoring Sudan's sovereign immunity last week.

The US has also authorised close to $1bn in aid to Sudan - in the form of direct assistance and debt relief.

The two countries also agreed to exchange ambassadors in 2020 for the first time in more than 20 years.

Earlier this year, Sudan signed a US-brokered agreement to normalise ties with Israel, although Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had previously said that his transitional government lacked the popular mandate to take major foreign policy decisions.