Saturday, October 21, 2006

US's Rice affirms US commitment to ensuring Sudan's unity

AP report via International Herald Tribune - excerpt:
US special envoy Andrew Natsios finished a week-long visit to Sudan on Friday by saying he had pressed the government for an effective peacekeeping force and a political settlement in Darfur, as well as the "protection of non-combatants from further atrocities."
Oct 20 2006 KUNA:
US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that her country was committed to working with Sudan's government to ensure its unity, peace and stability.

In a letter to her Sudanese counterpart Lam Akol, Rice stressed that Washington would continue its efforts to ensure implementing the two accords relevant to implementing peace in Darfur and the southern region.

In a press statement, spokesman for Sudan's Foreign Ministry Ali Al-Sadeq quoted Rice's hope that US-Sudanese efforts would ensure peace in Darfur and support Sudan's unity.

Rice's letter came after a one-week visit to Sudan by US special envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios who met with a number of officials, civic leaders and local societies.

Speaking to the press, Natsios said as this was his first visit to Sudan, he wanted to understand the situation by observing it, noting that he conveyed the US Administration's view that called for deploying UN forces in Darfur.

Natsios departed to Egypt to meet local officials and the Arab League's executives. Upon returning to the US, he would inform President George W. Bush and Rice about the visit's outcome.

Sudanese officials who met Natsios affirmed their cabinet's stance that rejected the notion of sending any international troops to Sudan, but they expressed the government's desire to continue talks with the US and international society.

Natsios was appointed by US President George W. Bush as Coordinator for International Disaster Assistance and Special Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan. He formerly headed the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

On August 31, the UN Security-Council (UNSC) issued resolution 1706 stipulating the deployment of international forces in Darfur to replace the African Union's troops whose mandate would expire at the end of 2006. Sudan's government rejected the resolution by saying the existence of such forces would threaten the nation's sovereignty.

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