Under Secretary David Hale provided opening remarks and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy chaired the fourth meeting of the Friends of Sudan in Washington, D.C., on October 21. Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi joined representatives from Egypt, France, Germany, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank to discuss how the international community can support Sudan's civilian-led transitional government's economic reform efforts. Representatives from Finland, Italy, and Sweden participated as observers.
At the end of the meeting, the Chair issued the following statement:
The Friends of Sudan expressed strong support for Sudan's civilian-led transitional government and welcomed a presentation by Sudan's Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi on the Sudanese government's plan to reform Sudan's economy and address the aspirations of the Sudanese people whose popular revolution toppled the regime of Omar al-Bashir in April. The Government of Sudan's two-track plan seeks to mobilize both domestic and international resources to demonstrate rapid improvements in social service delivery and youth unemployment while pursuing economic reforms and building the basis for longer-term development. Sudan's partners pledged to support proposed quick impact projects and begin a review of potential mid to longer term reforms that the Friends of Sudan could support. They also stressed the need for strategic communication, so the Sudanese people are fully informed of what their government is working to accomplish.
The Friends of Sudan recognized the importance of coordinated partner engagement with Sudan's transitional government and shared information on types of assistance they are looking to provide over the next year. They agreed a multi-donor trust fund may be an appropriate mechanism to support Sudan's economic reform program, particularly the need for a more robust social safety net program to cushion the impact of macro-economic reforms on Sudanese in dire poverty. They reiterated the importance of securing unfettered humanitarian access. Arrears clearance in international financial institutions, debt relief, and access to concessionary funding will be key to Sudan's sustained economic growth. Partners also discussed holding a donor conference in early 2020.
The Friends of Sudan welcomed the progress in the peace talks between the transitional government and Sudan's armed opposition groups and encouraged all parties to participate in good faith, noting that peace was one of the key objectives of the popular revolution. The Friends of Sudan agreed further peace talks would be best in a Sudanese-to-Sudanese format, possibly hosted in Khartoum, and warned against spoilers who refuse to participate in this unique opportunity to address the root causes of Sudan's internal conflicts. The group also expressed support for a new African Union mandate for the peace negotiations.
A number of partners raised the issue of the United States' State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) designation of the Government of Sudan and its impact on arrears clearance at international financial institutions, access to concessional funding, and international investment. The United States noted that it has begun engagement with the Government of Sudan on the requirements for potential recession of Sudan's SST designation.
The group noted that effective coordination and communication between the Friends of Sudan and the transitional government will be essential to successful political and economic reform. The United States will act as the Friends of Sudan's secretariat until the next Friends of Sudan meeting and will work closely with the Sudanese Ministry of Finance's donor coordination committee. The Friends of Sudan and Minister Elbadawi agreed the next meeting will take place in Khartoum and will be co-hosted by Norway.