Sudan's Bashir offers to take all debt: Carter on CNN

KHARTOUM Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:10am EST

KHARTOUM Jan 10 (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir offered to take on all of the country's crippling debt if the south declares independence after a referendum, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told CNN on Monday.

"I spoke with President al-Bashir. He said the entire debt should be assigned to north Sudan and not to the southern part ... So, in a way, southern Sudan is starting with a clean sheet on debt," Carter said in an interview with the television channel.

Sudan has previously called for its nearly $38 billion in debt to be forgiven to strengthen prospects for peace. Most of that debt is in arrears, according to the International Monetary Fund. (Reporting by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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