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World - Africa

Sudan denies any links with Osama Bin Laden

August 30, 1998
Web posted at: 12:43 p.m. EDT (1643 GMT)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- Sudan's foreign minister said on Sunday his country had no business or political links with Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident accused of masterminding the August 7 bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

"Sudan has nothing to do with Bin Laden," Mustafa Osman Ismail told a news conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where he stopped over on his way from Khartoum to Durban in South Africa for the summit of the Nonaligned Movement.

The United States launched missile attacks on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan on August 20 in retaliation for the embassy bombings, which killed 263 people including 12 U.S. citizens just over three weeks ago.

Washington said the Sudanese target, the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, was producing chemical weapons components, and was partly financed by Bin Laden.

The charges have been strenuously denied by Sudanese leaders, who say El Shifa only manufactured medicines.

Ismail said Bin Laden left Sudan in 1995 at the request of the Sudanese government, because of widespread allegations he was involved in other bomb attacks around the world. At the time, Bin Laden had several investments and companies in Sudan, mainly in road construction, but all those business ties have since been cut, he said.

"We told Osama Bin Laden that our position is to have good relations with the Arab nations and with our other neighbors, and that is not compatible with you staying here," Ismail said. "Osama Bin Laden left Sudan in 1995 and he never came back."

Sudan factory bombed by the U.S.  

"We cut all links," he added. "Those companies (formerly owned by Bin Laden) are either owned by other Sudanese private sector companies or by the Sudan government ... no investment is left."

Washington accuses the Saudi millionaire of running a global "terrorist" network from bases in Afghanistan.

Ismail also reiterated Sudan's call for a U.N. fact-finding mission to investigate the activities of the El Shifa plant, a call that has been backed by the Organization of African Unity and the Arab League.

"We want a fact-finding mission to come from the U.S. administration, to come from the U.S. Congress, to come from a neutral responsible person like (former President) Jimmy Carter or (U.S. civil rights leader) Jesse Jackson, to come from the Security Council," he said.

"It is not difficult to investigate," he added. "The factory is there, it has been closed from the day it was bombarded."

The U.N. Security Council has deferred a decision on Sudan's request.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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