U.S. President Barack Obama is turning the page in the West’s troubled relations with Sudan by taking a more constructive approach, a senior Sudanese official said on Thursday. The International Criminal Court has indicted the Sudanese president for war crimes in the Darfur region and European officials say Khartoum is jeopardising a peace deal that ended a separate conflict between Sudan’s north and south.

FRESH STARTBut Salman al-Wasilla, Sudan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, told Reuters in an interview the Obama administration was showing a readiness to break with the past. “We are now witnessing a new era (with) the coming of Obama to office, who is now starting to talk about understanding and respect and support and there was a lack of this before,” he said on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Libya.

Obama this year appointed retired Air Force General Scott Gration, a close adviser, as his special envoy to Sudan and the United States last month hosted a conference of officials from Sudan’s north and south to try to keep their peace deal on track. Attacking Western policies on Sudan over the past few years, al-Wasilla said his oil producing country had complied with international demands over Darfur and ended fighting with the rebels in the south but has not been rewarded.

“When we signed the peace agreement (with the southern rebels) we were promised the lifting of sanctions, we were promised debt relief,” he said. “What has been achieved in four years, it should be rewarded … This is what we need: encouragement and not sanctions and allegations and pressure,” he said.



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