Khartoum (AFP) – Sudan faces a "paradox", its foreign minister said Saturday, after Washington acknowledged Khartoum's support in tackling violent extremism but kept it on a blacklist of state sponsors of "terrorism".
"This is a paradox. We are the best country cooperating on countering terrorism and at the same time we are on the list of state sponsors of terrorism," Ibrahim Ghandour said.
His remarks, the first since the United States lifted a 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan on Friday, came hours after the top US envoy to Khartoum said conditions have to be "right" for talks on removing Khartoum from the list.
Ghandour, who led the Sudanese team that negotiated the lifting of sanctions, said it was time to start such talks.
Speaking Saturday on a panel organised by a private television channel to discuss the lifting of US sanctions, he welcomed the lifting of the trade embargo.
It was the "start of a road to build the right relations with the United States," he said.
On Friday, Khartoum hailed Washington's decision to end the sanctions as a "positive decision", but expressed disappointment at not being removed from the list, which also includes Syria and Iran.
Sudan insists that there is "no reason" for it to be blacklisted, as it has cooperated with US intelligence agencies in fighting "terrorism" — a claim acknowledged by the US State Department.
Washington first imposed sanctions on Khartoum in 1997 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups.
Osama bin Laden, the slain Al-Qaeda founder, lived in Sudan between 1992 and 1996.