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Sudan criticises US sanctions

CAIRO, Nov 2 – Sudan criticised the renewal of US economic sanctions on Khartoum on Sunday, saying the move ran counter to Washington’s efforts to mediate between north Sudan and the country’s semi-autonomous south.

"America claims it works as a mediator and is playing a positive role in solving Sudan’s problems, and at the same time it renews its sanctions against us," Mustapha Ismail, an advisor to President Omar al-Beshir, told reporters in Cairo.

US President Barack Obama renewed the sanctions on Tuesday, a week after unveiling a new policy of pressure and incentives toward the Khartoum government.

The sanctions restrict US trade with and investment in Sudan, freeze Sudanese government assets in the United States, and ban transactions with individuals and entities linked to the conflict in Darfur.

The United Nations says an estimated 300,000 people have died in Darfur since ethnic rebels rose up against Khartoum in 2003, claiming discrimination. Khartoum says 10,000 have died in the conflict.

The US’s new strategy involves engagement with Khartoum government officials, although the outreach will not include Beshir, who faces an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on alleged war crimes in Darfur.

On Saturday, US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration met southern leader Salva Kiir as part of ongoing talks to hammer out key issues ahead of elections due in April and a 2011 referendum on south Sudanese independence.

The Muslim north and Christian south Sudan fought a two-decade civil war that ended in a 2005 power-sharing agreement that scheduled an independence referendum for 2011.

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The two sides have since agreed on how to conduct the referendum, but the south has also accused the north of arming ethnic militias in southern states to destabilise the region ahead of the vote.

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