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Sanctions on Sudan Under Consideration, United States Says

02 April 2007

State Department condemns attack on African peacekeepers in Darfur

Washington -- The United States is looking at the “next diplomatic steps” to take with regard to Sudan in order to pressure the government to allow peacekeeping forces into the Darfur region to provide security and stability, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said April 2.

“There are a number of different diplomatic levers that are at our disposal,” McCormack said, including “[b]ilateral sanctions [and] multilateral sanctions.”

He said the Bush administration currently is considering its options, and is consulting with its international partners.

After talks in Ethiopia in November 2006, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir committed in principle to allowing a three-phase, 15,000-member hybrid United Nations-African Union (AU) force to deploy in the Darfur region to augment the overstretched contingent of AU troops already on the ground.

“We haven't seen any actions by the Sudanese government to indicate that they're going to change their position about letting in all three phases of the AU-U.N. force,” McCormack said, adding that President Bashir has attempted to add caveats to the plan “that we believe would lessen the effectiveness of that force.”  (See related article.)

“[Q]uite clearly, to this point the diplomatic pressure that we as well as others have tried to apply hasn't been working,” he said, and “as a result, we have to take a look at what else we might do.”

McCormack said U.S. officials “still hold out hope” that President Bashir indicated a potential change in Sudan’s position during recent talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Saudi Arabia.

However, he said, there is no alternative to having a force deployed in Darfur, saying “it's what needs to be done.”

“[T]hey need to be able to provide security not only for the people, but the humanitarian aid workers, providing an environment in which … Darfur is more stable and that you can actually start to make some progress on the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement,” he said.

The spokesman also acknowledged continued difficulty in obtaining troop contributions for the force, saying Sudan has been sending “subtle signals” suggesting those forces could be entering a nonpermissive environment, as well as Sudan’s suggestion that only African countries could contribute troops.

McCormack said imposing that requirement would “hamper the effectiveness” of the force.

“[T]here need to be forces from outside of Africa in this AU-U.N. force, just for the simple reason of not a matter of will on the part of African forces but just the limited amount of capability that they have,” he said.

When asked about an April 2 attack upon AU peacekeepers in western Darfur that killed five Senegalese soldiers, McCormack condemned the incident and called upon the Sudanese government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The AU soldiers “are there trying only to provide some semblance of security for innocent civilians in Darfur,” he said, adding the United States does not yet know who was responsible for the attack.

For more information on U.S. policy, see Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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