EL FASHER, Sudan — As Mark Green, the head of U.S. humanitarian aid, visits hard-hit areas of Sudan to assess whether help is getting to millions of civilians uprooted by war, he frequently dangles a carrot — lifting sanctions and a trade embargo.
His first overseas trip since becoming administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coincides with a sanctions review by the Trump administration that could undo measures imposed two decades ago. The White House has set an Oct. 12 deadline for a decision on whether to end sanctions against Sudan put in place initially over its support for international terrorism and then for the violence it used suppressing rebel groups in the five states that make up the Darfur region.
“The timing of my visit shows the importance the U.S. attaches to our relationship with Sudan during this very important sanctions review period,” Green said pointedly Monday as he met with Abdul Wahid Yousif, the governor of North Darfur state. The Sudanese official is credited with restoring the rule of law in a region where villages were destroyed when rebel groups battled government troops and pro-government militias in a brutal conflict that started in 2003.
“We will be closely watching for sustained progress,” Green added, citing five conditions Washington has laid down for sanctions relief, “especially humanitarian access.”
U.S. officials and many aid groups say the Sudanese government has made notable progress over the past year reining in lawlessness and allowing aid workers into conflict zones they had been blocked from reaching.
There also have been advances in counterterrorism cooperation. Sudan, where Osama bin Laden lived from 1992 to 1996, is one of three countries the United States labels a state sponsor of terrorism.
Sudan wants sanctions lifted so it can buy spare parts for its planes, trains and canal…