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Monday, January 17, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. may reward Sudan by removing its name from terror list

WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama, pleased with the referendum on independence, could remove Sudan from the U.S. list of terrorist sponsors.


Officials said the United States was examining the prospect of removing Sudan from the State Department list of terrorist sponsors over the next few months. They said the removal would be linked to the fairness of the secession referendum by southern Sudan.

"We have told both the north and the south that if the referendum does go smoothly then the president will initiate those actions," U.S. envoy Scott Gration said.

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In a briefing in Khartoum on Jan. 14, Gration pointed out that the U.S. offer was relayed to Sudan in late 2010 in an effort to encourage the cooperation of the regime of President Omar Bashir. The U.S. envoy said the key condition was that the referendum and its implementation proceed smoothly and without violence.

Nearly 50 people were killed during the week-long referndum vote in fighting between forces of northern and southern Sudan. The United Nations, which monitored the referendum, determined that forces loyal to the Bashir regime were attacking the south.

"We are not going to shortcut the statutory obligations of removing somebody," Gration said. "If everything goes smoothly it could be done by the end of the interim period."

The week-long referendum, with an 83 percent turnout, ended on Jan. 15 and officials results were expected in February. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, leading an observer mission, said a majority appeared to have voted for secession.

"It's highly likely that the referendum result will be in favor of separation," Carter said.

On Jan. 11, U.S. Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who visited Sudan, said election violence was restricted to the oil-rich area of Abyei. Carson said U.S. diplomats were monitoring the referendum in five of 10 southern Sudanese provinces.

"The referendum on southern Sudan's independence is going extremely well, and we are pleased with the cooperation that we have seen from the leaders on both sides," Carson said.

The Sudanese interim period for the referndum and implementation was scheduled to be completed on July 9. Officials said Washington would continue to closely monitor southern Sudan over the next six months, in which the Bashir regime must demonstrate that it no longer supports groups deemed terrorist.

"Even though we have clearly indicated a willingness to remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list if the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] is fully implemented, Sudan must also comply with the criteria under the law for the removal of this state sponsor designation," Carson said. "But it does, in fact, have sufficient time to do that to align it very closely with any possible independence for the south.

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