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The goal was ambitious bordering on impossible.

At the time, North Korea was one of the world’s poorest countries, and an international pariah restrained by economic sanctions for its dogged pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.

There were no specifics, and certainly no major policy changes designed to achieve Kim’s aim.

This Saturday, October 10, marks 75 years since the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea — the communist political party that has ruled North Korea since the country’s inception.

By now, Kim could have expected to have been celebrating his country’s economic success alongside one of its most significant national days.

It would have been a golden propaganda opportunity to portray Kim as one of the most important leaders and freedom fighters in Korean history, or at least North Korea’s version of it.

But the last few years haven’t panned out as Kim might have hoped, and by mid-August of 2020, he admitted what had become abundantly clear: the plan had failed.

Kim blamed “unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects and the situation in the region surrounding the Korean peninsula,” according to a report published by North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA.

State media didn’t specify which challenges, but they are likely to include sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and fallout from recent floods.

October 10 will still be celebrated, though it’s unclear how the country will adapt its customary military parades amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Satellite images taken in August and September appear to show rehearsals are underway, according to an analysis by North Korea specialty website 38 North. And a handful of experts believe Pyongyang may use the opportunity to reveal a new “strategic weapon” that Kim teased in January.

Still, October 10 was supposed to be more than just a military parade — it was supposed celebration of all Kim Jong Un had accomplished in the last five years. Instead, Kim must mark the occasion while facing the most daunting set challenges he has seen since taking power.

A strategy half-finished

Two years after taking power in 2012, Kim announced North Korea would be guided a new national strategy of developing the country’s nuclear weapons program while simultaneously working to jump start the economy.

The two were hardly given equal weight in practice. Kim oversaw more ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests than his father and grandfather combined, while the economy sputtered along year after year. The focus on weapons yielded fruit in 2017, when Kim successfully tested a hydrogen bomb and three intercontinental ballistic missiles, the type of projectiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads over long distances. While experts still debate whether or not North Korea can successfully pair the two and hit a precise target half a world away, the regime demonstrated enough new capabilities to worry the United States and its allies.

In his annual New Year’s Day address in 2018, a speech akin to a US President’s State of the Union, Kim said that North Korea had completed its effort to develop viable nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and thanked his people for paying the price.

“We have created a mighty sword for defending peace, as desired by all our people who had to tighten their belts for long years,” he said.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was costly, and more than just in terms of man hours and materiel. Each weapons test was seen as a major provocation by the international community. They were met with increasingly punishing United Nations Security Council resolutions. At first, sanctions mostly targeted North Korea’s weapons production capabilities, but by 2017, the international community was going after Pyongyang’s ability to make money overseas on everything from shellfish to coal. The hope was that these measures would choke North Korea’s economy to the point that it would force Kim to the negotiating table.

When the time came for his January 2018 speech — approaching two years into the five-year plan — Kim shifted gears. He was ready to embrace diplomacy, and he did it fast. In just six months, Kim went from global pariah to a statesman holding court with the leaders of China, South Korea, Singapore and the United States.

What exactly motivated Kim to stop weapons testing and emerge from isolation is still debated. US President Donald Trump’s administration claims sanctions, which Washington had largely organized and pushed for, gave Kim no choice but to negotiate. Kim, on the other hand, said in March of 2018 that his country no longer needed weapons tests because its quest for nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them was complete. Diplomacy was the logical next move.

Kim now had his weapons and he was ready to talk.

Three meetings, two leaders, one big disagreement

Trump and Kim met three times: June 2018 in Singapore, February 2019 in Hanoi and then again briefly at the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas in June 2019. By the third meeting, North Korea was more than three years into its five-year plan, but had yet to deliver the economic prosperity promised to its people.

Things had largely been going Kim’s way until he met Trump in the Vietnamese capital. By that point, the young North Korean leader had arguably completed an advanced nuclear weapons program; repaired relations with longtime ally China; and held a meeting with a sitting US president, a propaganda victory his father and his grandfather — the man who founded North Korea — had only dreamed of.

Kim came to Hanoi ready to make a deal to shut down Yongbyon, the biggest and best-known facility in North Korea that produced fissile material for nuclear weapons, in exchange for sanctions relief, according to Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton.

But Trump’s administration vowed that sanctions relief would not come before Kim surrendered his nuclear weapons. North Korea had struck phased, step-by-step nuclear deals with previous US administrations, but all those had failed. Trump and his aides made it clear it was time for something new.
Trump wanted some sort of “big deal” that saw North Korea give up its nuclear program quickly for immediate sanctions relief. A top State Department official said Washington was seeking something like a nuclear down payment.

But such a deal requires a modicum of trust, something the two sides do not have. North Korea has long looked at leaders like Moammar Gadhafi of Libya — who gave up his incipient nuclear weapons program in exchange for financial relief, only to be overthrown by US-backed forces years later — as cautionary tales.

The disagreement over the big picture didn’t derail things in Singapore, but it proved insurmountable in Hanoi.

Kim repeatedly pushed a deal along the lines of Yongbyon-for-sanctions relief, but he was not keen to negotiate away ballistic missiles or North Korea’s secret nuclear sites, according to Bolton’s recently published memoir. Bolton said he was told by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Kim told Trump and the top US diplomat he was “very frustrated” and “getting angry” that Washington wasn’t keen on the trade. Later, when Bolton was in the room, he said Kim appeared “visibly frustrated” when it became clear the two sides had reached an impasse.

Trump decided to walk away, concluding that Kim wasn’t ready to agree to something the White House was interested in. Working-level talks between the two sides both before and after Hanoi failed to yield any substantial progress, though the two leaders continued corresponding through letters.
So Pyongyang resumed weapons testing, though not the long-range ballistic missiles that could reach the United States, and Kim gave the US something of an ultimatum: come up with some new ideas by the end of the year, or else.

That deadline came and went, and all the while, North Korea’s economy continued to struggle. Sanctions are still place and are keeping Pyongyang from improving its economic outlook.

By January 1, 2020, North Korea was four years into the five-year plan and the country’s economy had not yet made any significant headway.

The forthcoming global pandemic would make things worse.

Pandemic problems

North Korea might be one of the most isolated countries in the world, but its close proximity and relations with China meant it couldn’t take any chances when the coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Foreign travel to North Korea was extremely limited even before the pandemic, but in January the country shut its borders, announced a “state emergency” and set up anti-epidemic headquarters around the country.
The decision made sense. Doctors who have defected in recent years paint a picture of a derelict health care system in dire need of upgrades. North Korea’s medical infrastructure would likely be overwhelmed in the event of a major outbreak. Strictly enforcing public health measures and closing the border have likely helped prevent the virus from spreading.

But even for a country known as the “hermit kingdom” that prides itself on independence — the country’s state ideology, Juche, is often translated as “self-reliance” — a lockdown comes with serious costs.

A North Korean coronavirus outbreak might be the biggest threat Kim Jong Un has ever faced
Pyongyang is heavily reliant on trade with China to keep its economy afloat. Clamping down on the border essentially cut North Korea off from its economic lifeline, and the total volume of trade between the two countries crashed before briefly rising again in June, according to Chinese customs data reported by North Korean news monitoring site NK News.

Historic flooding this summer brought on by major storms also strained resources.

With the pandemic raging and sanctions still in place, it was clear that Kim’s aim to give his people a “wealthy and a highly civilized life” would not pan out.

Kim threw in the towel in August, and KCNA reported that North Korea would form a new Party Congress to assess what went wrong. The North Korean leader is expected to announce a new five-year plan early next year.

The show will go on

Kim may not be able to celebrate economic glory on October 10, but experts predict he will use the opportunity to give the world a glimpse of some of North Korea’s newest advanced weaponry — perhaps the mysterious “strategic weapon” he teased at the start of the year.

Satellite imagery appears to show some movement at a shipping yard that’s known for submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) development, fueling speculation that Pyongyang may test a new, solid-fueled SLBM.

North Korea has tested liquid-fueled submarine missiles before, but their solid-fueled counterparts are more advanced — and easier to fire at short notice. A successful launch would represent another major milestone in North Korea’s push for modern weapons technology.

Whatever North Korea teases or tests, any new weaponry is likely to receive plenty of attention. Within North Korea, a show of military strength will serve as a timely distraction from the pandemic, the economy and Kim’s failed five-year plan.

The Kim family’s reign in North Korea has proven remarkably durable. Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, remained in power despite a famine that killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.

When Kim took power after his father’s death in 2011, he defied widespread expectations of his imminent demise, proving himself to be a shrewd and calculating politician.

Kim’s economic ambitions may not have materialized, but the North Korean leader is likely to be around for some time yet. The international community will be watching closely in January when he releases his next five-year plan, to see how the North Korean leader intends to build wealth in an economy heavily restrained by sanctions.

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Government watchdog knocks Postal Service for operational changes


“The resulting confusion and inconsistency in operations at postal facilities compounded the significant negative service impacts across the country,” the inspector general wrote.

In addition, the inspector general found that the documentation of the operational changes provided by USPS officials to customers and congressional lawmakers “was generally accurate but incomplete.”

The “collective results” of the changes by DeJoy and USPS executives, “combined with the ongoing employee availability challenges resulting from” the coronavirus pandemic, “negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery nationally,” the inspector general wrote.

The inspector general also found that the agency’s “mail service performance significantly dropped beginning in July 2020, directly corresponding to implementation of the operational changes and initiatives.”

DeJoy, a former businessman and Republican megadonor, was tapped to lead the cash-strapped USPS this summer as the White House escalated its unsubstantiated attacks on mail-in voting — provoking widespread criticism of DeJoy’s organizational restructuring at the agency.

DeJoy came under further scrutiny last month after The Washington Post reported he had potentially violated campaign finance law by pushing employees at his former North Carolina-based company to donate to Republican campaigns and reimbursing them using bonuses.

A spokesperson for DeJoy told the Post that DeJoy was not aware that any employees had felt pressured to make donations.

Last week, the USPS agreed to reverse all the changes it made earlier this year that allegedly slowed mail service, settling a lawsuit filed against the agency and DeJoy by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. The agreement required the USPS to prioritize election mail.

The 39-page watchdog report comes as tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots in the 2020 election, which has seen local and state governments significantly expand vote-by-mail capabilities to better protect public health amid the pandemic.

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How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Exacerbating The Mental Health Crisis At UK Universities

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There are fears mental health among students may worsen as many are isolated from friends and family

10 min read

Student representatives have warned that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will only worsen the mental health crisis that has gripped British universities in recent years.

“There was a mental health crisis across universities prior to the pandemic,” said Sara Khan, NUS vice president for equality and liberation. 

“Students were not being given adequate support or access to mental health services, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these issues.”

Statistics from the past decade paint a poor picture of the state of mental health provisions across higher education.

There was a fivefold increase in first-year students reporting a mental health problem in the 10 years to 2016, according to a recent IPPR study, and 94% of higher education institutions claimed to have seen a rise in demand for counselling services over the past five years.

The result has been widespread reports of long waits for support services, lack of funding, inconsistencies in approach across the sector, and significant gaps in NHS provision. 

And the cost has sometimes been tragic—2015 saw a record number of deaths by suicide among students, representing a 79% rise since 2007.

The crisis came into the spotlight in 2018 after it was revealed that at least 11 students at the University of Bristol had died by suspected suicide in just 18 months.

James Murray, whose son Ben committed suicide at the university in 2016, said he feared the next crisis in university mental health was already on the horizon. 

If we can’t physically see somebody to spot the signs because they’re working remotely, then we’ve got a potential crisis on our hands

– James Murray, father of Ben Murray who committed suicide as a student in 2016

“I think the first thing is to recognise that, sadly, the stats tell us that students are most vulnerable at this time of year. The highest peak in suicides is in January,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“And we know from pre-Covid days that there were 95 student deaths in 2016. And one in five students has suicidal thoughts, ideation, that doesn’t necessarily lead to suicide, but it makes them vulnerable. 

“Given that two-thirds of the suicides are unknown to support, if we can’t physically see somebody to spot the signs because they’re working remotely, then we’ve got a potential crisis on our hands. January is the crunch month and I’d like to see more action.”

Steps were being taken by the government late last year to remedy the situation, including supporting a sector-backed University Mental Health Charter, which set out best practice and recognised institutions demonstrating it. 

But much of this progress has been hindered by the ongoing pandemic, and many have criticised the government for advocating the return of students to university campuses, only for them to be met with online-only classes, limits on social activities and the threat of coronavirus quarantines.

University lockdown Thousands of students across the UK were told to self-isolate due to coronavirus (Image: PA)

“The decision to encourage students back to campuses was motivated by income over the welfare of students,” Ms Khan said.

“The marketised system of higher education has meant that universities were forced to prioritise tuition fees over the safety of their students, in order to secure their future sustainability. 

“This is completely unacceptable and has led to a complete lack of consideration of the effect that this would have on students.”

How this social isolation could impact the mental health of young people this academic year is one of the biggest areas of concern, said Sophia Hartley, welfare officer at Leeds University Union (LUU).

She told PoliticsHome: “Many students in Leeds have already had to experience a two-week isolation period which naturally lends itself to low mood, anxiety around leaving the house and feeling closed off from the outside world.”

“All students want is to be heard. This can sometimes feel like an impossible task when you are one voice amongst a group of almost forty thousand. However, it is so important that students feel like their needs are met.”

Though the university had been able to expand the capacity of its services, said Katie Hughes, LUU’s deputy head of help and support, they were seeing many more students struggling with the new normal. 

Nightline reported triple the number of calls relating to loneliness or problems with friends and family between March and April this year

“What we are hearing is that students who have previously been able to manage their mental health are finding that the strategies they’ve used before aren’t currently an option, for example seeing friends and family, taking part in group sports activities etc., so they are reaching out to try and find alternative ways,” she explained.

Statistics published by Nightline—a student-run listening service operating at universities across the UK—tell a similar story. 

Their phone lines reported triple the number of calls relating to loneliness or problems with friends and family between March and April this year, as well as double the number of calls related to academic stress.

No data is available yet for the current academic year, but according to Beth Scahill, coordinator of Nottingham University’s Nightline, a similar trend was playing out on their service.

“We’ve seen more use out of our phone lines than actually through our instant messaging service,” she said. 

“More people have been calling us rather than messaging us, which I thought was quite interesting because it seems people are missing their human contact and sometimes it’s nicer to hear someone’s voice than to see a message.”

University lockdown There are concerns about the impact of social isolation may have on young people (Image: PA)

The universities contacted by PoliticsHome reported that they had been able to offer expanded and/or adapted mental health provisions, such as delivering one-to-one counselling via Zoom or setting up digital support groups to help struggling students.

But, there were still accounts of young people who had seen therapy services disrupted due to the pandemic, or had struggled to access support when needed.

One student said she had been offered three mindfulness sessions in April by her university while suffering poor mental health, but had them cancelled after one appointment as the counsellor administering them had been furloughed.

Meanwhile, an undergraduate at a different institution said the counselling service took four weeks to reply to him at the height of lockdown, only for them to say they were unable to offer any sessions.

And, as students returned for the new school year, concerns were raised after thousands of students across the UK were forced to self-isolate regardless of whether they had symptoms of coronavirus. 

Undergraduates at Manchester Metropolitan University, where 1,700 people were required to quarantine in late September, complained they felt “neglected” and were struggling to access food.

Even before the pandemic, students were placed on long waiting lists for access to mental health services – we cannot have students falling through the cracks now.

– Shadow minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan

Shadow minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan is now leading calls for the government to step in and ensure universities have support provisions in place.

Writing for The House Live earlier this month, she said young people were facing a “unique set of challenges during the pandemic” resulting in a “mental health crisis ready to explode”. Her proposed measures, however, are yet to be brought forward. 

“Even before the pandemic, students were placed on long waiting lists for access to mental health services – we cannot have students falling through the cracks now,” she told PoliticsHome.

“The Education Secretary acknowledged that the situation on campuses will affect the mental health of students. However, the Government has failed to act on our request for a package of support for students’ mental health.

“Students cannot be forgotten in the crisis–their mental health and wellbeing depends on it.”

Meanwhile, NUS vice president Ms Khan said universities needed show greater flexibility and offer more support for students self-isolating

“Universities should be providing care packages with food, household products, wellbeing materials and general necessities, and targeted educational and mental health support, with facilitation of social activity,” she added.

“The government needs to fully fund our education and healthcare systems, otherwise the student mental health crisis, which existed pre-Covid-19 and is only being exacerbated now, will persist.”

My students are telling me now, ‘please don’t call quite so often we’re fine’. That’s not the point. The point is keeping in contact with them

– Professor Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England

For now, many universities are focusing on how they can ensure the mental wellbeing of their students within existing resources. 

Professor Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England (UWE), said education leaders should prioritise keeping students in contact with their lecturers and tutors and giving them avenues to reach out if they need help/ 

“At my university, we have a 24-7 serious concerns helpline. And that helpline is available for parents or friends to raise concerns about their loved ones or friends. Students can also access it as well,” he told the Today programme.

“That’s been hugely important to make sure that we capture people early and continue to encourage students to call out and to ask for help.”

UWE is also using data analytics, he explained, to identify and understand when students were starting to disengage from university life so they could be contacted by university staff.

“Covid-19 has changed everybody’s life. So welfare calls into students who are self-isolating are hugely important, and they have to be regular,” he continued.

“In fact, my students are telling me now, ‘please don’t call quite so often we’re fine’. That’s not the point. The point is keeping in contact with them.”

Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, had a similar message, urging young people struggling at university to talk to someone if they felt they needed help.

“It can be hard to know how to ask for help, or where to turn to. But if you notice changes to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that last longer than two weeks, keep coming back, or affect your day-to-day life, tell someone you trust as soon as possible,” he said. 

“If you feel you can’t talk to a GP, open up to a friend, family member or think about talking to an academic supervisor, tutor, or a welfare staff member, who can help get you the support you need.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said:  “Protecting the mental health of students continues to be a priority, which is why the Universities Minister convened a task force of higher education and health representatives to address the issues students are facing at this time.

“We have been clear that universities have a responsibility to support their students and many have bolstered their mental health and welfare services during the pandemic, particularly to support those students who are self-isolating.

“In response to the pandemic, we have worked closely with the  Office for Students to provide up to £3 million to fund the mental health platform, Student Space, in addition to over £9 million of government funding to leading mental health charities.”

Need support? You can contact Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123 or email

Mind’s confidential Infoline is available Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393. Mind’s website also has information on how to cope with student life and how to manage feelings related to coronavirus.

If students would like to find out if their university is covered by a Nightline, and what services they’re currently providing, they can check by visiting their website

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Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize relations, Trump announces

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Trump made the announcement from the Oval Office while joined on the phone by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

According to a joint statement from the three countries, the leaders of Sudan and Israel “agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations” and “agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture.”

“The leaders also agreed that delegations will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate agreements of cooperation in those areas as well as in agriculture technology, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples. The leaders also resolved to work together to build a better future and advance the cause of peace in the region,” the joint statement said.

Netanyahu said Israeli and Sudanese delegations will meet “soon” to begin discussions on cooperation in various fields, such as agriculture and trade.

Palestinian leaders slammed the normalization agreement, with one calling it a “serious stab in the back of the Palestinian and Sudanese people.” Militant groups in Gaza also voiced their anger.

The normalization announcement came shortly after the White House said Trump had informed Congress of his intent to remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list. The rescission of the 27-year old designation was widely seen as being tied to the deal with Israel, despite Khartoum’s initial desire to keep the issues separate.

Speaking from the Oval Office on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the normalization and move to lift Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list “both have one thing in common: They made sense for the Sudanese people.”

Pompeo said Sudan “did all the things that they needed to do” to be removed from the list and he noted that the US wanted to support the civilian-led government, which was established after Sudan’s strongman leader, Omar al-Bashir, was ousted in a military coup in April 2019 after three decades in power.

“The Sudanese leadership is now driving toward a really strong outcome and improved life for the people of Sudan and we think for the broader region in north Africa as well,” he said.

Designation change required by Sudan

Senior government sources in Sudan told CNN earlier this week that the state sponsor of terrorism designation change was a requirement by Hamdok, the leader of the transitional government in Sudan, before talks on normalization could proceed.

“The designation change was our priority and normalization is theirs,” one source said.

The Trump campaign has touted the President’s foreign policy achievements in the Middle East. In the past several weeks the administration has overseen normalization agreements between Israel and both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and has teased that additional countries could follow suit.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that the formal notification to Congress “follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families.” Sudan agreed to settle with survivors and families of victims of the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the 2008 murder of US Agency for International Development employee John Granville in Khartoum.

“Yesterday, in fulfillment of that agreement, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families,” she said.

“Today represents a momentous step forward in the United States-Sudan bilateral relationship and marks a pivotal turning point for Sudan, allowing for a new future of collaboration and support for its ongoing and historic democratic transition,” she said.

Hamdok thanked Trump for the move to lift the designation.

“We’re working closely with the US Administration & Congress to conclude the (state sponsor of terrorism list) removal process in a timely manner,” he wrote on Twitter Friday. “We work towards int’l relations that best serve our people.”

The spokesman for Sudan’s sovereign council, Mohammed Al Faki, told CNN: “We have been formally notified that President Trump has signed the order rescinding Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terror. The order will be enacted in 45 days.”

Congress does have the ability to overturn the President’s decision to remove the designation, but only if both the House and Senate pass veto-proof joint resolutions of disapproval within 45 days.

Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993, and it is one of only four nations total designated as such. Iran, North Korea and Syria are also listed. As a result, Sudan faces a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.

According to the joint statement, “The United States will take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan’s debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.”

In her statement Friday, McEnany called on Congress to “act now to pass the legislation required to ensure that the American people rapidly realize the full benefits of this policy breakthrough.”

Victim reaction

Stuart Newberger, an attorney at Crowell & Moring who represents US victims of the 1998 embassy bombings and their families, told CNN this week that Congress must pass legislation because the agreement between Washington and Khartoum “requires that Sudan be basically relieved of being sued in federal court as a sponsor of terror under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.”

“So that’s why Congress has to get involved to provide Sudan what’s called ‘legal peace.’ The President can’t do that on his own; that’s something only Congress can do,” he said.

Such legislation must be passed before the $335 million can be paid out.

However, some are concerned that legislation that implements the settlement will imperil pending litigation from 9/11 families and victims against Sudan.

Others, including some victims of the twin al Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Nairiobi and Dar es Salaam, have objected to the terms of the settlement — it would give different payouts to those embassy employees who were US citizens at the time of the attacks, those who have since become US citizens and those who are still foreign nationals.

However, other victims of the bombings and family members welcomed the news earlier this week that Trump intended to lift the state sponsor of terrorism designation and urged Congress “to immediately pass the legislation that is needed to implement the agreement, and begin the payment process.”

This story has been updated with further details.

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Oren Liebermann, Nima Elbagir, Yassir Abdullah, Abeer Salman and Ibrahim Dahman contributed to this report.

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