Sudan

Sudanese gov't welcomes Rice's visit

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News and Press Release
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KHARTOUM, Jul 19, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - The Sudanese government on Tuesday welcomed the coming visit by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Sudan.

Sudanese Acting Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail expressed his hope in a press release that Rice's visit "will make a step forward to normalize mutual relations."

Rice is scheduled to arrive in Khartoum on Wednesday evening on a two-day visit to Sudan. She will hold talks with Ismail on Thursday before paying a visit to Sudan's western Darfur region.

Ismail said the two sides would tackle the improvement of the situation in southern Sudan and the humanitarian, security and political developments in the war-torn Darfur as well as the US- Sudanese relations.

The two sides will also discuss the US-imposed sanctions on Sudan, Ismail added.

He also urged Washington to lift the sanctions, stressing their negative influence on Sudan's peace process and on the role that could be played by the US to boost peace in the country.

The top Sudanese diplomat also called upon the US administration to continue supporting the peace process in Sudan and to fulfill its peace and economic commitment.

On the situation in Darfur, Ismail said there were improvements in the humanitarian and security domains, urging the international community to support the African Union peacekeeping forces in the region.

When asked about the Sudanese detainees in the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Ismail said the two sides had recently started discussing the issue.

He revealed that representatives from the Sudanese government had visited the Guantanamo Bay and secured the release of some Sudanese detainees there, adding that there were encouraging signals for more release.

Ismail announced last week after a visit to Washington that Khartoum and the US would raise the level of their diplomatic representation in a few months.

Following a long period of tension, relations between the two countries have relatively improved recently with several high- ranking visits.

A joint committee between the Sudanese government and the US has also been established to discuss ways of normalizing the relations.