US could remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

US could remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

The United States could remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in the summer if the African nation follows through with a referendum that could allow the south to secede, dpa reported.

Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum in January to decide whether to remain in the power-sharing government of national unity in Khartoum under the 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of fighting between the north and the south.

The country could be removed from the terrorism list as early as July 2011, US officials told reporters Sunday. The list also includes Cuba, Iran and Syria.

The move would be contingent on the referendum taking place as planned in January and on Khartoum respecting the results and implementing all other post-referendum agreements. Additionally, Khartoum would have to meet the standard criteria to be removed the list by not sponsoring terrorist activity, the officials said. It would not affect US sanctions against Sudan.

Senator John Kerry brought the offer to leaders in Sudan on behalf of President Barack Obama on a trip to the region, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Concerns have increased over whether the referenda would be held as scheduled because of the enormous task of setting in motion the preparations, and because of the lack of funding and referendum workers. Khartoum is opposed to the breakaway of Southern Sudan, which holds sizable oil reserves.

Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold the self-determination referendum on January 9 and a second vote will allow inhabitants in the oil-rich Abyei border region between Souther Sudan and north Sudan to decide to join the south or north.

   The peace agreement in 2005 ended decades of conflict between north and south Sudan by binding the two sides in a power-sharing government in Khartoum. The agreement called for a referendum in 2011 to let the south decide its own political arrangement.

Obama joined other world leaders at the United Nations in September in trying to convince north and south Sudan to maintain their five-year-old peace, which is threatened by the referendum that could allow the south to secede.

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