First US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years arrives in Khartoum

Washington designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism after Omar Al Bashir's regime hosted Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden

(FILES) In this file handout picture provided by Sudan's Prime Ministers office on August 25, 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) greets Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (R) in Khartoum. The United States on December 14, 2020 formally removed Sudan's state sponsor of terrorism designation, 27 years after putting the country on its blacklist, the US embassy in Khartoum announced. "The congressional notification period of 45 days has lapsed and the Secretary of State has signed a notification stating rescission of Sudan's State Sponsor of Terrorism designation is effective as of today (December 14), to be published in the Federal Register," the US embassy said on Facebook. - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SUDAN PRIME MINISTER OFFICE" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
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John Godfrey, the first US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years, took up his post in Khartoum on Wednesday in the latest easing of ties since Washington removed the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"I look forward to deepening relations between Americas and Sudanese and to supporting the Sudanese people's aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and a transition to democracy," Mr Godfrey said on Twitter.

Ties between the US and Sudan were severely strained under the three-decade rule of ousted president Omar Al Bashir, during which Washington slapped severe economic sanctions on Khartoum.

The US blacklisted Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993. This came after it was revealed that Mr Bashir's government was hosting Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who lived in the country between 1992 and 1996.

“Ambassador John Godfrey arrived today in Khartoum, the first US ambassador to Sudan in nearly 25 years,” the US embassy said.

The ambassador's arrival comes as Sudan reels from deepening unrest and a spiralling economic situation since last year's military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

The military power grab, Sudan's latest, upended a fragile transition installed following the 2019 toppling of Mr Al Bashir.

“Godfrey will work to strengthen relations between the American and Sudanese people and to support their aspirations to freedom, peace, justice and a transition to democracy,” the embassy statement said.

“He also looks forward to advancing priorities related to peace and security, economic development and food security.”

Before the US Senate confirmed Mr Godfrey to the ambassadorship, he served as Acting Counterterrorism Co-ordinator and the Acting Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr Godfrey said he would work with the Sudanese people to establish a path to a credible and civilian-lead democratic transition in the country.

"The rights of all individuals in Sudan, including members of minority groups, women, youth, and those in historically marginalised areas, must be protected and their voices heard in building a new Sudan," he said in May.

Relations with Washington eased under Sudan's now-ousted transitional government led by former prime minister Abdalla Hamdok. He took office following Mr Al Bashir's 2019 removal on the back of mass protests against his rule.

In December 2019, Mike Pompeo, who was serving as secretary of state at the time, said the US would appoint an ambassador to Sudan.

Washington removed Khartoum from its blacklist in December 2020 after Sudan named an ambassador to the US in May of that year.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: August 24, 2022, 7:02 PM