Report/title source: Sudan Tribune - www.sudantribune.com
Date: Thursday, 09 December 2010. Copy in full:
December 8, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The Russian government informed Sudan that it is prepared to help it obtain debt relief from external creditors, its special said today.
Photo: FILE - Russian special envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov (AFP)
"Sudan is a friendly country, and Russia is ready to consider positively the problem of Sudan’s debt, and also to raise the question of cancelling Sudan’s debt to the international community," Russian special envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov told Russian news agency (RIA Novosti).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts Sudan’s external debts at about $35.7 billion, of which less than half is the original amount borrowed and the rest is divided between interest and late payment penalties. According to IMF, the figure is projected to reach $37.8 billion in 2010.
Sudan has long complained that political discord with the West has prevented it from joining the debt relief program known as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).
The news agency said that Sudan’s debt to Russia is between 5 and 10m dollars. The bulk of it, according to the envoy, is "irrevocable".
The Russian envoy said that his country is interested in pursuing development opportunities in North and South after the latter has its self-determination referendum next month.
"After the referendum in South Sudan in January 2011, Russia is interested in seeing possibilities for economic development emerging both in the south and north of Sudan, and so we will have to discuss the question of lifting the embargo imposed on the country and restrictions on economic projects in Sudan," Margelov said.
He said Russia would support any decision taken by the people of South Sudan in the referendum.
"Russia supports the referendum in South Sudan, in full compliance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement through democratic procedures, confirmed by international observers," he added.
He noted that Russia’s position on this issue is shared by all member states of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
On Wednesday, Margelov met with Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who expressed gratitude to Russia’s stances towards his country. The Sudanese leader briefed the Russian envoy on preparations for the referendum.
Margelov conveyed a letter from Russian president Dmitry Medvedev setting out Russia’s assessment on the preparations underway for the 2011 referendum.
"The guiding line in our policy on Sudan and the region in general is that of respect for Sudan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, we think it a matter of principle importance that the parties within Sudan itself, seeking to end the long-running armed conflict, stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed on January 9, 2005, that Southern Sudan will have the right to hold a referendum on self-determination," the letter read according to RIA Novosti.
"I am deeply convinced that, whatever the result of the plebiscite, it will not only determine the fate and status of South Sudan and its population, but will have a significant impact on the general political situation in the region. I hope that the outcome of the referendum will provide necessary conditions for the continuation of the post-conflict settlement and further sustainable development of Sudan," Medvedev said.
"Russia will continue to provide support for your country. We intend to continue to take steps in bilateral and multilateral formats, in order to develop relations of equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with friendly Sudan. I am convinced that Russian-Sudanese cooperation in international affairs will continue to serve as a factor in strengthening peace, security and stability, especially in this vast region of Northeast Africa," Medvedev stressed.
Medvedev further informed Bashir that he will send helicopters for the United Nations mission in South Sudan.
"In response to a request by the UN secretary-general, I have decided to relocate a Russian aviation group, which previously operated as part of the UN Mission in Chad and Central African Republic, to the UNMIS, to replace a similar Indian contingent. I hope that our helicopter units will be efficient in the preparation and holding of the referendum".