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France holds global talks to offer debt relief for Sudan

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French President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at the summit to support Soudan, Monday, May 17, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at the summit to support Soudan, Monday, May 17, 2021   -   Copyright  Christophe Ena/AP
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French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday the cancellation of Sudan's $5 billion debt to France as part of efforts to help the country in its transition to democracy.

The announcement was made at a Paris conference gathering African leaders and international creditors.

The conference aimed at marking Sudan's reintegration into the international community after three decades of isolation.

A popular uprising in the African nation led to the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

“We are in favour of entirely cancelling Sudan's debt (towards France),” Macron said in a news conference.

“We are expecting from other participants ... to make a similar effort, which is the needed effort to free Sudan from the debt burden.”

Germany also announced Monday that it would cancel €360 million of bilateral debt.

Macron said a global process of reduction of Sudan's debt should be formally launched by the IMF by the end of June. France will also provide $1.5 billion loan to clear Sudan’s arrears to the IMF, he added.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, said he hoped that “this will pave the way for other creditors of Sudan.”

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok praised a "milestone, historic conference” and wished the conference will be a starting point for the return of private and international investments to Sudan in the wake of economic changes initiated by the transitional government.

Sudan has for years struggled with an array of economic woes, including a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods. The country’s annual inflation soared past 300% last month, one of the world’s highest rates.

Sudan was also an international pariah after it was placed on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terror in the 1990s. This largely excluded the country from the global economy. Former President Donald Trump removed Sudan from the blacklist after Bashir's fall.