UN to Try to Lift Sanctions on Sudan in September

The United Nations Security Council will work to lift the five-year-long sanctions against the Sudan, council president, France's ambassador Jean- David Levitte said Wednesday.

"We believe that the time has come, if possible, to lift the sanction on the Sudan," Levitte told reporters, saying he was undertaking discussions with council members on the subject. He acknowledged that the issues involved are "extremely sensitive and extremely difficult."

"It is a bit like a sea serpent when we talk about the Sudan situation," he said, outlining the council's program of work for the month of September.

The council imposed sanctions on the African country in 1996 in an effort to force it to extradite three people suspected of attempting to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.

The council requires all states to reduce the number of Sudanese diplomatic personnel on their territory and to restrict the entry or transit of Sudanese government officials. It also decided to ban air traffic in and out of the Sudan, although the ban has never been implemented.

The Sudanese government has told the U.N. that investigations had found no trace of the three suspects in the Sudan.

News reports have suggested that a thaw in the relationship between the Sudan and the United States may play a role in the move to try reaching an agreement within the 15-member council to lift the sanctions. Washington has accused Khartoum of supporting terrorist actions.

However, Levitte declined to comment on "bilateral" matters between U.N. member states.

On other matters, the French representative hinted that U.N. sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia may also be lifted in September.

He said France would use its presidency of the council for the month to focus attention on Africa. Work would continue on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and would deal with the renewal of the mandate of U.N. peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone and the Horn of Africa.

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