First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit was to travel Monday to the United States armed with a message, "The war is over", and a request that 8-year-old sanctions be lifted, Sudan's official news agency reported. Khadr Haron, Sudan's charge d'affaires in Washington, told SUNA that Kiir's talks with the U.S. administration would focus on lifting the trade and economic sanctions on Sudan and removing its name from Washington's list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
"It is a message to those (anti-government) parties that the war is over and that the Sudan People's Liberation Movement turned now to be a part and parcel of the government," Haron told SUNA by telephone from Washington.
Relations have warmed between Washington and Khartoum since the January signing of a peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war in the south and gave the SPLM a share of the country's wealth and power, including the position of first vice president, the AP says.
In October 1997, the United States imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against Sudan in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. Further sanctions, particularly on weapons, have been imposed since the 2003 outbreak of violence in the western Darfur region.
The Darfur conflict started after members of ethnic African tribes took up arms, complaining of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
Kiir's visit to Washington will be the first since he took over the SPLM in August following the death of First Vice President John Garang de Mabior in a helicopter crash.