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27 July 2004

Official Rebuts Charge U.S. Seeks to Topple Khartoum Regime

C. Snyder says U.S. has always worked with Sudan to solve crises

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- In an escalating war of words between Sudanese and U.S. officials over the Darfur crisis, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Charles Snyder dismissed a statement by Sudan's envoy at a recent Africa Union (AU) meeting that the United States seeks to topple his government as having no foundation.

During a recent visit to Sudan, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he expected immediate action to be taken by the government to rein in marauding militias in Darfur and to allow much needed relief supplies to enter the region. Soon after Sudanese officials visiting the European Union in Brussels responded by saying the United States should stay out of their nation's internal affairs.

Speaking at a July 27 news conference at the Foreign Press Center, Snyder said, "With regard to the [alleged] attempt on our part to topple the Government in Khartoum, we have worked for over three years to bring to closure a long civil war between the north and south [in Sudan], in which over 2.2 million people have been killed over a 17-year period. This is not the action of a government that seeks to topple another government."

Instead, the official said, "We've reached out to them; we've worked with them."

In a candid admission, Snyder told foreign journalists, "To some degree I think the stridency you may be hearing from Khartoum [in response to U.S. insistence on immediate action in Darfur] is a bit of disappointment that we don't consider the North/South [negotiations] so important that we'd be willing to overlook this [crisis in Darfur].

"The truth of the matter," said Snyder, is that "we've said to Khartoum several times, ‘the North/South peace can't exist without peace in Darfur. Sudan is one country. There is either a just peace throughout the country or there is no peace that is effective. And we cannot continue to proceed on the basis of strictly a North/South compromise if these kinds of actions are going to take place in the west, east or anywhere else.' "

Khartoum and the principal warring faction in the south recently signed a framework agreement facilitated by the United States in Naivasha, Kenya, which Snyder -- a key player in the agreement -- says provides the type of monitoring and peacekeeping mechanism that has proved successful in other contested regions in Sudan.

Joining Snyder at the news conference, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Kim Holmes recapped the situation in Darfur and current actions being taken by the U.N. Security Council and other international institutions to deal with the crisis. Even though there are differences over the exact language of the U.N. resolution currently being debated, Holmes said, "Everyone believes the Security Council should be engaged on this issue.

"So hopefully as we move forward and we do get some resolution at some point in the very near future, that will make very clear to the Government of Khartoum that the international community is solid on this point, and that the best thing for them to do, in order to help their own people, is to improve access to humanitarian aid workers [to Darfur] and also provide security" for all citizens.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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