KHARTOUM, (Reuters) – Lawyers from the Pentagon’s legal office will meet with families of Sudanese Guantanamo detainees to discuss how they might be released, a Sudanese foreign ministry official said on Friday.
The U.S. delegation arrived in the Sudanese capital on Thursday as the diplomatic detente between Khartoum and the new administration in Washington is showing further signs of a thaw. U.S. Senator John Kerry and U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration have both visited Sudan this month.
“They are here to collect information for their (the prisoners’) civil defence to facilitate their release,” said Mohammed Omar, who heads the consulates and expatriates section at the foreign ministry.
“They will also meet concerned Sudanese parties from the interior and justice ministries as well as the security and intelligence apparatus and a representative from the lawyers’ syndicate,” Omar told Reuters.
Omar said the delegation would remain in Sudan until Wednesday. U.S. embassy officials in Khartoum have declined to comment on the visit.
Since taking office in January, U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the closing down of the prison camp at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba.
Washington has had tense relations with the Islamist government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who came to power in Africa’s largest country in a 1989 coup. The United States imposed economic sanctions on Sudan in 1997 and labelled it a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
Ties were strained further by the conflict in Darfur, which both Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush have called genocide, a description Sudan’s government rejects.
Bashir has however struck a more conciliatory tone in his recent comments on the United States. Obama has said the United States will seek a way to restart talks between rebels in Darfur and the Khartoum government.