CAIRO — Sudan’s transitional government said Thursday it has reached a settlement with families of the victims of the 2000 attack on USS Cole in Yemen, in a bid to have the African country taken off the U.S. terrorism list and improve relations with the West.
The settlement is the latest step from Khartoum to end its international pariah status. Earlier this week, Sudan’s provisional rulers said they had agreed to hand over longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and genocide during the fighting in the western Darfur region.
Also, Sudan’s interim leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, earlier this month met in Uganda with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced that Israel and Sudan would normalize relations after decades of enmity. Observers and Sudanese officials have said that the settlement with the USS Cole victims was among the last hurdles faced by Sudan on its path to being removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror.
At the time of the Oct. 12, 2000 attack in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen others, Sudan was accused of providing support to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sudan’s information minister and interim government spokesman, Faisal Saleh, told The Associated Press over the phone that Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari had traveled last week to Washington to sign the deal, which included compensations for both those wounded and the families of those killed in the attack.
He said the figures could not be disclosed because the Sudanese government is still in negotiations to reach a similar settlements with families of victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. More than 200 people were killed in the attacks and more than 1,000 were wounded.
The initial figures on the table had been in the billions, he said, but Sudan’s interim government had “inherited an empty treasury.” He said he hoped the international community would be sympathetic to the country’s situation.