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13 April 2005

United States Pledges Additional Aid to Sudan at Oslo Conference

State's Zoellick links Darfur humanitarian issues to reconstruction assistance

By Charles W. Corey
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The long-term objectives of the United States in Sudan have been to encourage the peaceful reconciliation of all parties there and to create an opportunity for a new start for that country, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick told reporters April 12, the same day he pledged up to $2 billion in U.S. aid for that troubled nation.

Speaking at a press conference in Oslo, Norway, after the countries attending pledged $4.5 billion -- almost double the $2.6 billion the United Nations said would be needed for the reconstruction process -- Zoellick reminded everyone that assistance to Sudan rests on two interconnected issues: the implementation of the North-South Accord for a comprehensive peace and resolution of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

He warned that continued U.S. support and assistance for Sudan at the Oslo conference would depend on whether the Sudanese government acts quickly to end the conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan that has killed thousands and displaced millions of Sudanese since 2003.

“I don't believe that either the United States or parties in Europe or others around the world will be able to give full support to the North-South Accord if the situation in Darfur does not improve,” Zoellick said.

Citing the March 31 report of the United Nations on the 2005 Human Work Plan for Sudan, which identified the United States as providing more than half the funds for peace and reconstruction, Zoellick added: “I think for us and others to be able to sustain this [level of funding], you can't have human rights atrocities and crimes against humanity in Darfur.  So part of the message is that we've got to get the government of Sudan and the other parties to work to improve conditions there.”

The deputy secretary also warned that, despite the recent accords and the good will of donor nations, the situation in Sudan could spiral either upwards or downwards depending on how the parties react now.

The upwards spiral would be tied to implementation of the North-South Accord, he told reporters, because “the accord also creates a beautiful framework for dealing with disputes elsewhere in Sudan, including Darfur.

“To deal with the problems in Darfur you must go beyond the humanitarian and immediate security issues -- you also have to create a political context,” he said.  “That's one of the reasons that we are engaged to the degree that we are.  We want to improve the likelihood of success.”

While in Oslo, Zoellick announced plans to travel to Sudan for talks on the North-South Accord and the situation in Darfur with the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the leaders of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Rumbek in southern Sudan.  He will also fly to the Darfur region to observe personally the conditions there.

Some 400 representatives from the governments and nongovernmental organizations of 70 nations attended the April 11-12 conference in Oslo, pledging $4.5 billion in aid for postwar reconstruction efforts in Sudan, especially in the southern part of the country.

The United States consistently has led the way in trying to bring peace and reconciliation to Sudan.  Over the past three years, the United States has committed more than $1.6 billion to Sudan for humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution in Darfur and for reconstruction and development as well as support for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

(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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