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Citing action on terrorism, Security Council lifts sanctions against the Sudan

Citing action on terrorism, Security Council lifts sanctions against the Sudan

Welcoming the accession of the Sudan to United Nations conventions against terrorism, the Security Council today decided to terminate international sanctions against the country.

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 14 in favour with the United States abstaining, the Council ended the measures, which were imposed in 1996 in an effort to compel the Sudan to extradite three suspects in connection with an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the previous year.

In imposing the sanctions by resolution 1070, the Council also demanded that the Sudan stop supporting terrorist activities and giving shelter to terrorists. UN Member States were asked to reduce the number of Sudanese diplomatic staff within their territory, to restrict the entry into - or transit through - their countries of Sudanese government and military officials, and to deny aircraft permission for Sudanese planes to take off from, land in, or fly over their territories.

In today's resolution, the Council noted that Egypt, as well as Ethiopia where the assassination attempt took place, both supported the lifting of the sanctions. It also welcomed the Sudan's accession to the relevant international conventions for the elimination of terrorism, the ratification of the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the signing of the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.

Explaining his country's decision to abstain in the vote, US Ambassador James Cunningham said the suspects in the assassination attempt had not been turned over to the appropriate authorities, but added that apparently "they are no longer in Sudan."

The US representative also lauded the Sudan's recent actions, including the apprehension of "extremists within that country whose activities may have contributed to international terrorism." Khartoum was also "engaged in serious discussions" with the US on ways to combat terrorism, he said. "We expect the Government of Sudan to demonstrate a full commitment to the fight against international terrorism by taking every step to expel terrorists and deny them safe haven.

Following the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the press it was important for the Council to lift sanctions, "sending the message that it can impose sanctions but it can also suspend and lift [them], if the conditions they sought to correct have been amended." Evidence of the compliance, he said, was laid out in letters the UN had received from organizations and governments around the world, including the two countries directly affected, "who were keen for sanctions to be imposed - that is - Egypt and Ethiopia."

Also speaking to the press, the Sudanese Ambassador to the UN, Elfatih Mohamed Erwa, said the sanctions were lifted as a result of "very hard work with the international community to clear Sudan from any allegations." Regarding the Council's demands in 1996 for the Sudan to hand over suspects in the assassination attempt against the President of Egypt, the Ambassador said "the fact that Sudan did not hand them over is because they were not in Sudan. You cannot give what you don't have." The sanctions, were imposed, he said, "due to a really regrettable incident in 1995 where the perpetrators used to live in Sudan, although the Sudanese Government had nothing to do with it, but still we had to work hard to clear this matter."

Asked about media reports that the Sudan had cracked down since 11 September on terror groups, he said Sudan's cooperation on terrorism did not start only after the recent attacks. "On the contrary, when we started the process of lifting the sanctions, we had already started cooperating with the United States through counter-terrorist experts in Sudan to meet the concerns that the US Government had."