Bush surprise at Sudan briefing
US President George Bush expressed amazement when he heard that the south Sudan peace deal was not working 18 months after it was signed.Note, my understanding is the $4.5 billion pledged for southern Sudan by donors has strings attached. The development funds depend on a peace agreement for Darfur. Sudanese rebels refusing peace account for one of the reasons for slow progress, not to mention all the other obstacles (scroll through 2 years of this blog) like the Abyei boundary dispute, LRA rebel attacks and the undertaking by the UN to de-mine huge areas of southern Sudan to clear the way for development.
"That is not the information I'm getting," he told the BBC's Khartoum reporter Alfred Taban, who was in Washington to receive an award.
Our correspondent says he spent almost 20 minutes talking to Mr Bush, who was very keen to hear about the situation in Sudan.
"He asked me if the peace agreement was working and I said, 'Mr President, it is not working,' and he was very surprised," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
When the president said that this was not what he had been informed, our reporter said he told Mr Bush: "Well, whatever information you're getting, that peace agreement is not being implemented by the government in Khartoum."
He went on to tell the president that people in southern Sudan were still waiting to see improvements to their lives.
"There's no water, there's no electricity, nothing in Juba," our correspondent said, describing life in the capital of south Sudan.
During the discussion Mr Bush called one of his aides and asked to be given more details on southern Sudan.
"He appeared to be taking it very seriously," our reporter said, describing the president's manner as warm and welcoming, despite the intimidating surroundings.
"We've got a man from the Sudan who talked eloquently about free press," the president said.
"My spirits are enriched by talking to freedom lovers and freedom fighters."
June 30 2006 Uganda Watch LRA victim: 'I cannot forget and forgive'