Sudan Military Meets U.S. Diplomats While Bashir Charged With Corruption

Sudan's bloodshed has prompted concern from world powers like the U.S., which just appointed an envoy to the country on Wednesday.

KHARTOUM, June 13 (Reuters) - The head of Sudan’s ruling military council held talks on Thursday with the senior U.S. diplomat for Africa, who was visiting Khartoum to encourage a transition to democracy two months after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, met with Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said the council, which released a photo of the meeting. Veteran diplomat Donald Booth, who was appointed U.S. envoy to Sudan on Wednesday, was also present.

“Burhan expressed Sudan’s aspiration to strengthen its relations with the United States as a superpower that has a positive role which the Sudanese people looks up to,” the military council said in a statement.

The United Stats was helping the ongoing political negotiations between the council and the opposition, it added.

Stalled talks between the council and an alliance of opposition groups over who should control a three-year transition toward elections collapsed after a June 3 raid on a protest sit-in that left dozens dead.

The bloodshed in Sudan has prompted concern from world powers including the United States, which sanctioned Sudan under Bashir over its alleged support for militant groups and the civil war in Darfur.

Trade sanctions were lifted in 2017 but Sudan is still on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, which prevents it from accessing badly needed funding from international lenders.Washington previously said it will not take Sudan off the list while the military remains in power.

Stability in the nation of 40 million is crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya.

The military council has been bolstered by support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which between them have offered $3 billion in aid.

Nagy already met with the opposition alliance and held talks with Sudan’s acting Deputy Foreign Minister Ilham Ibrahim onWednesday.

Earlier on Thursday Sudan’s state prosecutor’s office said that Bashir had been charged with corruption after the completion of an investigation.

Bashir was overthrown and arrested in a coup by the military on April 11 after months of mass protests against his autocratic 30-year rule.

The charges were related to laws on “suspected illicit wealth and emergency orders,” the public prosecutor’s office said without giving more details.

Bashir had already been charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

Prosecutors had also ordered his interrogation on suspicion of money laundering and financing terrorism.

It has not been possible to get a comment from Bashir since his removal.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Lena Masri; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Angus MacSwan)

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