Sudan formally announced on Thursday that it would cut ties with North Korea, the U.S. State Department confirmed. The Trump administration has worked to isolate North Korea on the global stage.
“[F]ollowing bilateral meetings in Khartoum with Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan,” a State Department release stated Thursday, “the Sudanese Foreign Ministry formally announced Sudan’s commitment to sever all trade and military ties with North Korea.”
The announcement comes after the administration eased sanctions last month against Omar al-Bashir’s East African dictatorship – still listed on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Those sanctions had been in place since the 1990s, a result of human rights violations committed in Khartoum’s brutal war against separatists in the south and later in the Western Darfur region.
The concessions on sanctions come from Sudan’s public willingness to cut ties with North Korea, one of the United States’ gravest foes. Previously, Sudan had purchased millions of dollars of weapons from Kim Jong-un’s regime. Sales like that are one of the highly isolated communist nation’s few sources of hard foreign currency.
“Isolating the North Korean regime is a top priority for the United States, and is a key element to maintaining peace and stability worldwide,” the State Department statement continues. “The United States is grateful for Sudan’s commitment to take these important steps in light of the critical threat posed by the DPRK.”
Thursday’s announcement came after months of ongoing negotiations with Sudan that extend back into the Obama administration. In October, a senior administration official expounded “five points” Sudan had to meet in those negotiations:
[F]irst, to maintain a cessation of hostilities in the areas of its internal conflict, including Darfur and what we refer to as the two areas, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile; second, to improve humanitarian access across Sudan; third, to end destabilizing activity in South Sudan; fourth, to build and deepen U.S.-Sudan cooperation in countering terrorism; and fifth, improving regional security with a particular focus on countering Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
At that time, Sudan made no official announcement on North Korea beyond that it would abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions banning arms sales. Thursday, Sudan appears to have formalized its break with North Korea.