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Sudan and US to exchange ambassadors in sign of warming ties

Announcement comes as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visits Washington
US officials have lauded Hamdok's transitional government (Reuters/File photo)

The United States and Sudan will exchange ambassadors for the first time in 23 years, the US State Department said, in a sign of warming relations between Washington and Khartoum following the toppling of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this year.

The announcement on Wednesday comes as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visits Washington to hold talks with top US officials. 

Hamdok is leading a transitional power-sharing government with the military after a popular uprising ousted Bashir in April. 

Washington praised the new prime minister of Sudan on Wednesday, but the country remains on the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), a designation that Sudanese leaders say hinders efforts to revive the economy.

"Hamdok has led Sudan’s transitional government, installed a civilian cabinet, and made key personnel changes to break with the policies and practices of the previous regime," the State Department said in a statement.

US special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth had said that Washington is backing Khartoum's transitional government, but certain conditions must be met before Sudan is removed from the list.

"It's not in anyone's interest for SST to be lifted if indeed there's any sponsorship of terrorism going on," Booth said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington on 23 October.

"I'm not saying there is. I'm just saying this is something we need to be careful to verify. It's a multi-step process, and Sudan has to meet the statutory and policy criteria for the lifting of SST." 

On Wednesday, Hamdok met with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale as well as Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin. 

In a Twitter post, Mnuchin praised Hamdok's government's "stated commitment to respecting human rights, fighting corruption, and reforming Sudan’s economy

For its part, the Department of State said Hale expressed "unwavering US support for Sudan’s democratic transition".