Khartoum charm starts to pay off as US eases Sudan communications sanctions

Khartoum officials have in recent weeks set up camp in Washington, as they seek American favour once more.

THE United States on Tuesday eased sanctions against Sudan by allowing Americans to send some communications hardware and software, including smartphones, officials said.

The measure, which takes effect Wednesday, also covers computers and related accessories, the US Treasury Department said.

Washington and Sudan have strained diplomatic relations and the United States has for years imposed sanctions on Sudan over a range of grievances including on human rights and Darfur.

Last week, the United States hit out at Sudan for failing to allow a UN probe of an alleged mass rape in Darfur by Khartoum’s troops.

But it would appear a charm offensive launched by Khartoum may be paying some early dividends. Sudanese officials have in recent weeks made a beeline for Washington, as they reportedly seek to gain American favour again. (Read: Omar al-Bashir has a spring in his step—could a thawing of US-Sudan ties be on the cards?)

Washington slapped economic sanctions on Sudan following its perceived support for terror, including the hosting of Osama bin Laden, the killed leader of Al-Qaeda.

Senior Sudan presidential aide Ibrahim Ghandour last week met US State Department officials, with the normalisation of relations. Khartoum officials in interviews back home have been bullish about the prospect of a White House meeting.

Sudan Foreign minister Ali Karti had earlier also pitched camp in Washington, where he held meetings with members of Congress, leading to the invite to Ghandour in what Khartoum sought to lay out as a quantum leap in US-Sudan relations.

Khartoum has also reached out to regional allies such as Uganda, a key US ally but which it has had strained relations with over perceived support for each others rebels. 

The Arabic country also hopes to play a mediator role in the Libya crisis.

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