German President Steinmeier’s visit boosts Sudan bid against isolation

Khartoum, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s visit to Khartoum this week has become the latest marketing tool for the transitional government to help Sudan out of international isolation.

Mr Steinmeier became the first German President to visit Khartoum since 1985, and is the highest ranked global leader to visit Sudan since the ouster of Omar al-Bashir last April.

His two-day trip from Thursday has left authorities excited and hoping it could further improve the country’s image.

Sudan is still struggling to get off the US sanctions list.

In Khartoum, the German leader met Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, the leader of the Transitional Sovereign Council, as well as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

“I am here to say that we are happy with the changes in Sudan and public opinion is interested in that as well,” Steinmeier said.

He urged the international community to help the country to rebuild.

“We know the difficult economic situation and Sudan needs access to international financial institutions,” Steinmeier told a joint press conference with Premier Hamdok on Thursday.

“I assured Hamdok that Germany can be relied on and pointed out the economic potentials…Germany is ready to support the peace process.”

The German leader had visited Burkina Faso and Kenya this week, promising support for development and trade.

Germany, for example, has announced that it will increase its contribution towards fighting locust invasion in East Africa, providing an additional $18.7 million to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, increasing its total commitment to $21.99 million.

But in Sudan, where food shortage and hard economic times have been felt just as much, the problem is the restriction to international assistance. Officially, the US lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism and a USA Court has issued a verdict demanding that Khartoum pays families of victims of a US warship bombed in Yemen in 2001. The terror merchants of that incident were reportedly trained in Sudan, where then al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was living in the 1980s.

President Steinmeier’s visit indicated thawing relations between Germany and Sudan, which had been in a lull for the three decades of Omar al-Bashir’s rule.

Prime Minister Hamdok said Berlin’s decision to lift the development ban on Sudan establishes strong ties.

By The Eastafrica

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