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Sudanese leader: No connection to attacks

By Charlayne Hunter-Gault
CNN Johannesburg Bureau Chief

KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) -- Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said Wednesday he has assured the United States that no one connected with the September 11 terrorist attacks is on Sudanese soil and he is relatively confident the eastern African country won't be a target of retaliation.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, al-Bashir said Sudan is and has been cooperating with the United States and that his country is not aware of any terrorists living in Sudan. He said that Sudan -- which borders Egypt on its north, Libya on its northwest and is across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia -- is not giving terrorists sanctuary.

The terror attacks in the United States should not be linked to any particular group, he said, adding that the strikes are an international issue. Therefore, al-Bashir said, any retaliation should be done under the umbrella of the United Nations.

At a glance: Sudan  

Sudan is one of seven countries designated by the U.S. State Department as state sponsors of international terrorism. For some time now, Sudan has been trying to get off that list, for which the country is engaged in discussions with the State Department.

Islamic militant Osama bin Laden -- who once lived in Sudan before the country expelled him and is now believed to be living in Afghanistan -- is the key suspect in the September 11 U.S. attacks, which killed thousands.

In August 1998, the United States launched an attack against a pharmaceutical factory outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Washington said the factory was used by bin Laden to make chemical weapons, but the claims have been disputed by many diplomats and analysts. Sudan denied the factory was used for the production of chemical weaponry.

For the past 15 months, a team of FBI and CIA agents have been in the country, investigating any links to the 1998 bombing. That investigation is going on at the highest level.

The Sudanese believe they have met all the conditions they've needed to make sure there are no terrorists in the country, said al-Bashir, and U.S. officials are on hand to observe that.

• U.S. State Department: Overview of state-sponsored terrorism

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