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State's Negroponte Thanks Chad for Aiding Darfur Refugees

18 April 2007

U.S. official meets with President Deby, civil authorities in Chad

Washington -- Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte thanked the Chadian government and civil authorities for providing assistance to refugees from neighboring Sudan's Darfur region.

Negroponte had traveled to Abache and Koukou Anganara in eastern Chad, where he visited refugee and internally displaced person camps.  "There I saw first-hand how the crisis in Darfur has affected innocent Chadian and Sudanese civilians along Chad’s eastern border with Sudan," he said.

Negroponte made his comments at a press briefing April 17 in Ndjamena, Chad.

Noting Darfur was a subject of "intense interest on the part of the American people and our government," Negroponte said he wanted "to express my government’s deepest condolences for the Chadian civilians killed, wounded, and displaced by attacks from the Jingaweit militias [forces backed by the Sudanese government]."

As the single largest donor in humanitarian aid to both Sudan and eastern Chad, the American people and their government remain committed to providing support to "the victims of this instability," he added.

Negroponte expressed "appreciation to the government of Chad, community leaders, and humanitarian agencies for their assistance to the Darfur refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad."

Negroponte is on a nine-day diplomatic mission that includes stops in Sudan, Libya and Mauritania.  While in Ndjamena, Negroponte met with President Idriss Deby and Foreign Minister Allam-mi as well as members of Chadian civil society.

He said he also met with Sudanese nonsignatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).  That agreement was signed in May 2006 between the Sudanese government and several rebel groups, but fighting between the Jingaweit and rebel holdouts still festers, adding to the displacement of more than 2 million people -- including the more than 200,000 refugees now in Chad -- caused by the conflict that began in early 2003. (See related article.)

On the political front, Negroponte said, "the United States urges the governments of Chad and Sudan to continue their dialogue and to cease supporting any armed elements, be they rebels or ethnic militias that seek to destabilize their neighbor."

On expanding a hybrid U.N.-African Union force to complement the outnumbered African Union peacekeepers already in Darfur, Negroponte said,  "We believe the size of the peacekeeping force needs to be raised from 5,000 to somewhere between 17,000 to 20,000 troops."

Asked about the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to eastern Chad, Negroponte said the question was raised with the government of Chad "both publicly and privately," but that no decision by the U.N. Security Council had yet been made on the subject.

"We value our bilateral relationship [with Chad] a great deal and seek ways to strengthen and deepen our cooperation.  I hope that our collaboration with respect to the Darfur crisis can translate into positive developments in the economic and security relationships between our respective counties," Negroponte said.

A transcript of Negroponte’s comments is available on the State Department Web site.

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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