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Sudan expresses ‘deep regret’ over new US travel ban

Protesters rally against the travel ban at San Diego International Airport in California on March 6, 2017, after US President Donald Trump signed a revised ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority nations © AFP / Sandy HUFFAKER

Khartoum, Sudan, Mar 7 – Sudan expressed “deep regret and discontent” on Tuesday over US President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban barring its citizens from travelling to the United States.

“The ministry of foreign affairs expresses its deep regret and discontent over the executive order issued by the American president,” a statement said.

On Monday, Trump signed a revised ban on refugee admissions and new visas for travellers from six Muslim-majority nations, among them Sudan.

It came after a first ban was frozen by US federal courts.

The new executive order suspends refugee admissions for 120 days and halts new visas for travellers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. Iraqis who had been targeted by the original ban were not included.

Sudan said it renews its “condemnation” of the order as it comes despite Khartoum engaging in talks with Washington on fighting regional and international terrorism.

“These negotiations confirmed that Sudan plays a big role as a partner in fighting terrorism that endangers people of both countries and of the world,” the foreign ministry said.

Urging Washington to drop Khartoum from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, the ministry said the US adminstration should review the “harsh decision” taken against Sudanese citizens.

“Sudanese citizens have never been involved in any crimes or terrorism in the United States,” the statement said.

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Before leaving office, president Barack Obama eased decades-old sanctions against Sudan, but kept Khartoum on the blacklist.

Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 over its alleged support for Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.

Washington believes Khartoum’s terror ties have ebbed, but has kept sanctions in place because of the scorched-earth tactics it has used against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur.

An end to fighting in Sudan’s hotspots — Blue Nile and South Kordofan states as well as the Darfur region — had been set as a precondition for sanctions being lifted.

According to the United Nations, 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003.

Veteran President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the conflict in Darfur. He strongly denies the charges

Khartoum said it was keen to improve relations with Washington.

“Sudan renews its commitment to continue a bilateral dialogue in order to reach full and normal relations between the two countries in the interests of their peoples,” the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

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