KHARTOUM – Sudan’s justice ministry said on Thursday it had reached an agreement with the families of the victims of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
The ministry added the deal was signed on Feb. 7, in efforts to remove the northeast African country from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism and normalize relations with the rest of the world.
Washington has accused Sudan of involvement in the attack on Oct. 12, 2000, which killed 17 US sailors and injured 39 others.
The explosion against the USS Cole when the ship was anchored in the Yemeni port of Aden was claimed by al-Qaeda.
The statement said the deal “clearly specified that the Sudanese government was not responsible for this incident or any such terrorist incident.”
It added it had reached the settlement in a bid to end the terrorism allegations sparked by the former regime of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in a coup in April after 30 years in office.
The deal was signed “only for the purpose of fulfilling the conditions put by the US administration to take Sudan off the terrorism list,” the justice ministry continued.
A ministry official told EFE on condition of anonymity that Sudan had agreed to pay $30 million to the families of the victims.
US-Sudan relations deteriorated when al-Bashir took power after he led a coup in the oil-rich country in 1989.
The US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and started imposing sanctions against it four years later.
Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan for five years until 1996.
Washington later lifted economic restrictions and a trade embargo on Sudan after two decades in 2017 but kept the country on its state sponsors of terrorism list.
Earlier this month, head of the Sudanese ruling Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan held a meeting that sparked controversy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to find support from Israel to be removed from the terrorism list.