WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), who made three trips to Sudan in recent months, said North and South Sudan passed two major milestones today with the certification of referendum results on independence for the South and the North’s recognition of the outcome. He also said the time has come to initiate a review of Sudan’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of Khartoum’s recognition of the referendum. Chairman Kerry issued the following statement:
“This is a historic day for the people of South Sudan. Their determination to create an independent country has been certified by an overwhelming margin. The government in Khartoum also took an important step by announcing it has accepted the outcome of the voting.
“All of the people of Sudan can take pride in the peaceful beginning of a new country, and President Obama and Special Envoy Scott Gration can share in that pride. We must remember that there is much to be accomplished in terms of cooperation between these two independent but interconnected countries in the months before South Sudan is officially independent in July.
“In October, I took a letter to Sudan from President Obama that said when the referendum was complete and the results were recognized by the North, the United States would start the review process to rescind Sudan’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. Now that Sudan has taken these important steps, we should begin this review. Its results will be dictated by Sudanese actions and the requirements of U.S. law, but I am extremely hopeful that just as North and South Sudan have embarked on a new relationship, Khartoum is attempting to redefine its relationship with the United States and the rest of the international community.
“A stable, peaceful, and economically viable North Sudan is essential for a stable, peaceful, and prosperous South Sudan and both are very much in America’s interests. Darfur is and will remain central to the U.S. policy agenda and to future U.S.-Sudanese relations. Our goal is peace throughout the region.”
In January, Chairman Kerry traveled to Sudan to observe the referendum. During the visit, he met with Sudanese officials in Juba and Khartoum to encourage a peaceful referendum process and a broader agreement between the North and South that would guide Sudan through the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). He also traveled to Darfur to meet with the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and Darfuris recently displaced by violence.
In October and November 2010, Kerry traveled twice to Juba and Khartoum to help move the peace process forward at the Obama administration’s request. On his trip in early November, Kerry conveyed a proposal from the Obama administration to the governments in Khartoum and Juba, which outlined a roadmap for addressing key bilateral issues contingent on the implementation of the CPA and improvements in Darfur.