Thursday, October 26, 2006
Sudan: Rice Calls Sudan's Planned
Expulsion of UN Envoy 'Unfortunate'
October 23, 2006
Posted to the web October 24, 2006
White House Correspondent
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sudan's planned expulsion of U.N. envoy Jan Pronk is "unfortunate in the extreme," and said she planned to discuss the issue with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan October 23.
In remarks to reporters in Washington, Rice said, "The situation in Darfur has been deteriorating and the international community needs very much to be able to act there."
According to press reports, the Sudanese government told Secretary-General Annan October 22 that it considers Pronk's mission in the country "terminated," and has given him three days to leave the country.
"We think that it's important that the U.N. has continued high-level access in Sudan," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding that the expulsion order, "if carried out, would be very, very unfortunate."
Rice planned to telephone Annan to discuss this issue, as well as how to get the Sudanese government to comply with the Security Council's decision to authorize a U.N. peacekeeping force to address the humanitarian situation, McCormack said.
"It is a just terrible situation right now, where you have loss of innocent life. And there are areas where [nongovernmental organizations], where -- international organizations just can't get to. So there are people that are at risk in those areas," McCormack said.
He said Rice also had discussed the situation in Sudan with Chinese officials during her recent trip to Asia.
"[T]he sense we get is that the Chinese ... understand the importance of getting an international force in there. And I think that they do have some influence with this regime," he said, adding that other states, including Sudan's Arab neighbors, also can engage the Sudanese government in an effort to "explain to them clearly what the intent of this international force is and ... address some of their concerns."
President Bush's envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, recently returned from the region and was expected to brief Rice October 23 or October 24, McCormack said.
A senior State Department official said the United States wants to see a change in the behavior of the Sudanese government. However, despite Sudan's continued opposition to allowing a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace the African Union force in Sudan, the official said, "I don't know who you're going to find around the world to shoot their way into Sudan."
The official said all countries and groups who have influence with Sudan should "apply it and apply it in a vigorous way," as well as answer Sudan's questions regarding the mission of the U.N. force.
"[T]hey have raised questions about whether or not this U.N. force would be charged with tracking down members of the Sudanese regime a la [Serbian leaders Radovan] Karadic and [Ratko] Mladic," as with international forces in the former Yugoslavia.
"[T]hat is not in the mandate of this regime. So if there are questions in their mind about those things, we have tried to explain what this is, what it isn't and we encourage others to do so as well," the official said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: US Info.)
Written by allAfrica.com.