Trump Administration Delays Decision on Sudan Sanctions

By Felicia Schwartz Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Trump administration said Tuesday it is delaying a decision on whether to lift sanctions on Sudan by three months.

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The administration faced a July 12 deadline to decide if sanctions relief initiated by the Obama administration in January would become permanent.

"The United States will revoke the sanctions if the [Government of Sudan] is assessed to have sustained progress in these areas at the end of the extended review period," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

She added: "The general license issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which became effective on January 17, 2017, remains in place and broadly authorizes U.S. persons to process transactions involving persons in Sudan; engage in imports from and exports to Sudan; and engage in transactions involving property in which the [Government of Sudan] has an interest."

Under a directive signed by former President Barack Obama in January, the U.S. moved to lift a trade embargo and unblock Sudanese government assets that were frozen in earlier sanctions against the country and its leaders.

Sudan remains on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and continues to face sanctions related to a long-running conflict in the country's Darfur region and to alleged terrorism-related activities.

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The Trump administration was supposed to certify if the Sudanese government had maintained progress in counterterrorism cooperation, preserved a cease-fire, reduced offensive military action and improved humanitarian access.

"While we recognize that the [Government of Sudan] has made significant, substantial progress in many areas, the Administration has decided that some more time is needed for this review to establish that the [Government of Sudan] has sustained sufficient positive actions across all areas," Ms. Nauert said.

She said the Trump administration is "deeply committed to engagement with the [Government of Sudan] and working toward further progress on achieving a sustainable peace in Sudan, removing remaining obstructions to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and bolstering cooperation to counter terrorism and promote regional stability."

U.S.-Sudan relations have been hostile for much of the past two decades. Obama administration officials had conducted intensive engagement with the Sudanese government to bring about the sanctions relief.

She said the U.S. also wants to pursue increased engagement with Sudan's government in other areas, including on human rights and religious freedom as well as implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to put pressure on North Korea's nuclear program.

Write to Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 11, 2017 20:56 ET (00:56 GMT)