Sudanese officials have acknowledged that Saudi Arabia went the extra mile to help to lift US sanctions on Sudan, a north African country which seeks a strong relationship with the US and its allies in the Middle East.
US President Barack Obama ordered on Friday lifting of trade sanctions on Sudan, which was first handed down by the Bill Clinton administration.
King Salman telephoned Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir Friday night, congratulating him on the successful surgery he has undergone as well as the lifting of US sanctions on Sudan.
“For his part, Al-Bashir expressed thanks and gratitude to the king for his fraternal sentiments and to the Saudi government for the efforts exerted to back lifting the sanctions imposed on the African country,” said a report published by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Saturday.
“Obama’s decision was a result of the dialogue that has been ongoing between Khartoum and Washington to achieve Sudan’s interests,” said Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.
Ghandour described the move as “advanced and positive,” saying that it has been achieved through coordination among the various Sudanese bodies and ministries and overseen by President Al-Bashir.
Gen. Taha Osman Al-Husain, state minister at the Sudanese Presidency, said “the Kingdom played a key role in lifting part of sanctions on the Sudan.
“Saudi Arabia has exerted enormous and continued pressure on the US administration to achieve that goal,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily, the sister publication of Arab News.
He said King Salman directed Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to extend support to Khartoum lifting the sanctions.
Al-Husain, who is also the head of President Bashir’s office, said “his country has been working with the US for lifting the sanctions for the last several years.”
“But efforts never materialized and progressed until Sudan’s relations improved with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” said the Sudanese official.
He added the Saudi efforts began two years ago and continued in March 2016 in Morocco ahead of the Nouakchott Arab Summit when King Salman met with President Al-Bashir.
Al-Husain expressed optimism over the continuation of dialogue with the new US administration headed by US President-elect Donald Trump, and to work closely with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to strengthen bilateral relations as well as ties with the US.
He also hoped that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will play a major role in the total and complete lifting of US sanctions on Sudan.
Ghariballah Khidir, spokesman of the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Khartoum was determined to pursue its cooperation with the US until Sudan is removed from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.”
Arab News could not reach the local Sudanese diplomats for comments.
But an African diplomat said, on condition of anonymity, that “Sudan will continue to work closely with the US, with its European allies and its allies in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and the UAE to achieve peace and security in the Middle East as well as in African continent.”
He said that Sudan has made a firm commitment to support its Gulf allies. To this end, it is important to note that Sudan is one of the main partners in the Saudi-led coalition.