Sudan, US agree to hold more talks to improve ties

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Sudan said on Thursday it had reached agreement with the United States on a second phase of talks aimed at removing it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Washington lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan and removed travel restrictions a year ago, but economists say foreign investors and banks are put off by the continued U.S. designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria.

"Sudan welcomes the launch of the second phase of strategic talks between the two parties ... especially after the success of the first round of talks which led to the lifting of economic sanctions," Sudan's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sudan's continued listing as a state sponsor of terrorism, to which Khartoum was added in 1993, makes it ineligible for badly needed debt relief and financing from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Washington wanted Sudan to make further progress on human rights, religious and press freedoms, improving humanitarian access and expanding counter-terrorism cooperation.

Also on the list are "ceasing internal hostilities and creating a more conducive environment for progress in Sudan's peace process."

Washington also wants Khartoum to abide by U.N. resolutions related to North Korea.

One day earlier, Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dardiri Mohamed announced the launch of a "second phase" of dialogue with U.S. officials.

Mohamed made the remarks at a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, held on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, according to a Sudanese Foreign Ministry statement.

That meeting reportedly focused on Sudan's pivotal role in the region and the need to improve bilateral ties.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Thursday that Khartoum continues to violate basic human rights, with security forces regularly attacking civilians and opening fire on peaceful protesters.

Sudan's economy has been struggling since the south of the country seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of its oil output.

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