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Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK


World: Africa

We've changed, says Sudan Government

The US bombing of a pharmaceutical factory has not helped relations

By Barbara Plett in Khartoum

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustapha Osman Ismail has appealed to Europe, in particular, to take a new look and review its assessment of the Sudanese Government.

He said Khartoum had changed its tune from the old days of Islamic extremism and internal repression, that it was responding to relatively new international concerns about democracy and human rights.


[ image: SPLA rebels are distrustful of the government]
SPLA rebels are distrustful of the government
The energetic foreign minister recently made a trip to Europe and said he is expecting return visits from several government delegations this month.

He told journalists that Khartoum and London had recently restored diplomatic ties on the understanding that Britain would take a fresh look at Sudan's political reform.

Relations were broken last year after London backed the US missile strike on a Khartoum medicine factory said to be producing chemical weapons.

Terrorism denials

The Sudanese Government has gone on the offensive against accusations - coming especially from Washington - that it sponsors terrorism and is practising genocide in its ongoing war with African rebels in the south of the country.

The armed opposition is deeply sceptical about the sincerity of political reforms, which are supposed to end military rule and promise political freedom.

Government opponents say so far they have not seen substantive change and are waiting for the authorities to abolish repressive security laws.

They are preparing to respond to a government request for expanded peace talks - but in the meantime have vowed to continue the war.



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