U.S. lifts sanctions on major Sudanese bank

Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:49pm BST

* U.S. lifts sanctions on major Sudanese bank

* Sudan hopes Washington will remove all sanctions

KHARTOUM, Apr 29 (Reuters) - The United States has lifted economic sanctions on a major lender in Sudan, which has long been under a trade embargo, a U.S. administration official said on Friday.

In November, Washington renewed sanctions on the Sudanese government but also held out prospect of reconsidering its tough action if Khartoum made progress in resolving the north-south dispute and improved the situation in the troubled Darfur region.

The Sudan-based Bank of Khartoum has been removed from the U.S. blacklist because it is no longer controlled by the government, the U.S. official told Reuters.

The move allows the bank limited business dealings with U.S. institutions and to claim back blocked assets.

Sudanese officials have been hoping Washington will end all economic and trade sanctions, first imposed in 1997, and remove Khartoum from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Most Sudanese believe U.S. sanctions have affected ordinary people more than the government as banks and companies are isolated from international financial markets.

U.S. officials have said Washington could remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism by July if the north accepts the south's independence referendum.

Sudan was placed on the U.S. sanctions list in 1993 for harbouring "international terrorists". It has hosted prominent militants including Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal.

South Sudan is due to split from the north on July 9 after the referendum but northern and southern leaders have yet to agree on a range of issues such as disputed border regions.

A senior U.S. administration official on Thursday slammed Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for threatening not to recognise South Sudan as an independent state if it claimed the oil-producing Abyei border region. [ID:nN28169563]

Abyei was due to vote in January on whether to join the north or the south, but north-south disputes over who could vote derailed the ballot and talks on the region's status have stalled. (Additional reporting by Andrew Heavens in London) (Reporting by Glenn Somerville in Washingon and Ulf Laessing in Khartoum, editing by Tim Pearce)