Trump extends review period for Sudan sanctions

Wednesday July 12 2017

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday opted to extend by three months the deadline on whether to lift decades-old sanctions against Sudan, saying "more time is needed" for review.

Trump was to decide by Wednesday whether to permanently lift Washington's sanctions on Sudan after his predecessor Barack Obama eased the embargo in January but kept Khartoum on a six-month review period.

In his executive order Trump amended the deadline to October 12, 2017.

Obama made the permanent lifting of sanctions dependent on Khartoum's progress on five areas of concern at the end of the review period.

"I have decided more time is needed for this review to establish that the Government of Sudan has demonstrated sufficient positive action across all of those areas," Trump's order said, adding that "the Government of Sudan has made some progress."

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Washington imposed a complex set of economic sanctions on Sudan in 1997 for its alleged backing of Islamist militant groups.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan in 2011, was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.

Washington also justified the embargo with accusations of scorched-earth tactics by Khartoum against ethnic minority rebels in war-torn Darfur.

At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since a brutal conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003, the United Nations says.

Prior to Trump's measure the UN said it hoped the US would make a "positive decision" on sanctions against Sudan for allowing more humanitarian aid access across war zones as sought.

Giving more access to humanitarian workers was one of the five conditions Obama insisted Sudan must meet before the sanctions can be lifted permanently.