US treasury chief visits Sudan after blacklisting lifted


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(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 21, 2020, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at a news conference announcing sanctions on Iran’s defense ministry and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the US State Department in Washington,DC. – The US on December 30, 2020, imposed sanctions on Venezuelan judge Lorena Carolina Cornielles Ruiz and prosecutor Ramon Antonio Torres Espinoza over the jailing of six US-connected Citgo oil executives who allege a sham trial. “The unjust detention and sentencing of these six US persons further demonstrates how corruption and abuse of power are deeply embedded in Venezuela’s institutions,” Mnuchin said as he announced the sanctions. (Photo by Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrived in Sudan Wednesday for talks on future US economic assistance following Khartoum’s removal from Washington’s state sponsors of terrorism blacklist.

“The United States Treasury chief Steve Mnuchin arrived today morning (Wednesday) atop a high-ranking delegation, in the first such visit to Sudan,” a government statement said.

Mnuchin is scheduled to meet both heads of state General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Their talks are expected to focus on Sudan’s deteriorating “economic situation, and US aid to Sudan and debt relief,” the government said.

Sudan is struggling with a chronic hard currency shortage and galloping inflation that have hit the purchasing power of all social classes.

Its external debt is estimated at around $60 billion.

The United States formally removed Sudan from its crippling blacklist on December 14 as part of a quid pro quo for the mainly Arab country’s normalisation of its relations with Israel.

Sudan agreed on the move in October but said it would only come into force after its approval by a yet-to-be-formed parliament.

In return, Washington has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Sudan.

Sudan’s justice ministry said the total amount of direct and indirect US aid envisaged under the deal amounted to $1.1 billion, in addition to another “billion dollars that the US has committed to transferring to the World Bank to pay arrears Sudan owes.”

Sudan has been undergoing a rocky transition since the army toppled veteran president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 following months of mass protests against his rule.

The joint military-civilian administration charged with overseeing the transition has sought to end the country’s international pariah status by forging closer ties with the US.

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