Rights groups raised concerns that it would be premature to remove sanctions.
US-imposed economic and trade sanctions against Sudan will come to an end on October 12 after President Donald Trump issued a decree Friday. But the decision effectively ends a 20-year US economic embargo against Sudan.
Omar al-Bashir, who took power in a military coup in 1989, faces genocide charges at the worldwide criminal court relating to extensive human rights abuses perpetrated by Sudanese forces against civilians in Darfur, the western region gripped by bloodshed since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. In 2013, for example, Sudan reportedly purchased more than six million dollars worth of North Korean man-portable surface-to-air missiles in a deal that flouted United Nations arms sanctions against both countries.
According to Nauert, the USA action "came about through a focused, 16-month diplomatic effort to make progress with Sudan in these key areas". It also remains subject to separate United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its violent crackdown on opposition groups in Darfur, for which Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, faces worldwide criminal prosecution on charges of crimes against humanity, including genocide.
Sudan has also agreed not to seek arms deals with North Korea.
Shortly before leaving office, Obama temporarily eased penalties against the country.
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The United States is preparing to lift decades-old economic sanctions against Sudan, citing improvement on human rights and progress on counter-terrorism, a U.S. official said on Thursday. Last week the Trump administration removed Sudan from its controversial list of countries whose citizens travel to the USA is severely restricted. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face genocide charges related to the Darfur conflict.
Yet Sudan is expected to stay on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, until a separate review determines whether it can be removed.
The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.
Senior State Department officials emphasized that that status was not affected by Friday's announcement and more progress would be needed if Sudan were to leave that unsavory company. A further round of sanctions was put in place in 2006 in response to Sudanese forces' actions in the troubled Darfur region.