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U.S. To Lift Sudan Sanctions, Re-Open Path For Oil Exports

Sudan’s oil and gas sector will re-enter the international fold in coming weeks as the United States plans to end an embargo against the country related to its human rights abuses and counterterrorism strategy, according to emerging reports.

The Trump administration will follow through on a promise made by former President Barack Obama to lift the penalties against Sudan. A formal announcement from the State Department is expected as soon as Friday, the report said.

Officials said Sudan has made significant progress in working with the international community in dealing with domestic human rights and terrorism issues, which warrants an easement on ongoing sanctions.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have been lobbying hard to relieve Sudan from the sanctions in a bid to distance Khartoum from mutual rival Iran.

Sudan is expected to remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, however. This will continue a ban on weapons sales and restriction on American aid dollars directed towards the country. Syria and Iran are the only other countries on that short list.

Sudan and South Sudan recently signed a deal to open direct trade along the border and increase production in the oil fields in South Sudan that are currently not functioning. The deal will serve as an economic lifeline to both countries.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but it has been a bloody road to establishing a stable government whose budget is dependent almost entirely on oil. In December 2013, civil war broke out when President Salva Kiir Mayardit sacked the cabinet and accused Vice President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup. The civil war ended in 2015—officially—but clashes persist. The United Nations estimates that roughly half of the South Sudanese population has fallen into severe food insecurity due to the conflict. 

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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