Bashir says US sanctions caused immense hardship
KHARTOUM - President Omar al-Bashir said on Thursday that Washington's "unjust" trade embargo on Sudan had weakened the African country and caused immense hardship for its people.
His comments came just two weeks before US President Donald Trump is to decide whether to permanently lift the embargo that Washington first imposed two decades ago over Khartoum's alleged backing for Islamist militant groups.
"The unjust sanctions imposed on our country since 1997 have primarily weakened the state and its institutions, and caused hardship to our people immensely," Bashir said at an African security and intelligence conference in Khartoum.
"Despite the sanctions ... concentrated efforts are being taken for achieving national security and stability and for countering extremism."
The sanctions imposed severe restrictions on Sudan's access to the international banking system and cumbersome regulations on trade.
Washington kept them in place largely because of the conflict in Darfur, where Bashir's regime adopted a scorched earth policy against ethnic minority rebels who rose up in 2003.
Following a significant improvement in relations, then US president Barack Obama eased the sanctions in January with a view to lifting them completely after a six month review.
But in July, Trump extended the review period to October 12.
The US outlined "five tracks" that Sudan must adhere to for the sanctions to be lifted permanently, including an end to hostilities against armed groups in Sudan, halting support for insurgents in neighbouring South Sudan and counterterrorism cooperation with Washington.
On Sunday, Trump removed Sudan from a list of countries facing a US travel ban in a sign of improved counterterrorism cooperation.