9:30 A.M. EDT
MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. The briefing today is actually two sessions. The first panel will be composed of U.S. Government officials; our second panel will include experts from the advocacy community. Right now, we have Special Envoy for Sudan Scott Gration, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and the Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs at the NSC Samantha Power. And it is a real privilege to have all these officials here with us today. This session will last approximately 45 minutes after we make a round of opening statements, then we will have a brief break and we will have all of our colleagues from the advocacy groups who will come up here and have a panel session as well, and that will go about 45 minutes. So this promises to be a very interesting and insightful briefing, and so without any further ado, I’d like to turn the podium over to Special Envoy Scott Gration.
Well, good morning and thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate the Washington Foreign Press Center for making this event possible and we look forward to hearing from our partners in the NGO and advocacy communities as they participate in the second panel here today.
I want to make sure that there’s plenty of time of questions, so I’ll just make some brief remarks to get you up to speed on what’s happening in Sudan. President Obama has made it very clear that Sudan is one of the Administration’s priorities in foreign policy. We’re deeply committed to using all of our available tools to support the parties as they work toward full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. President Obama’s vision for Sudan is one of hope, of stability, peace, and prosperity for the Sudanese people.
With just 79 days remaining until January 9th
– that’s the day when the Southern Sudanese are scheduled to hold the referendum on self-determination – there is just no more time to waste. Between now and the start of registration in mid-November, the Southern Sudanese Referendum Commission must finalize voter registration procedures, it must hire and train and deploy over 10,000 registration workers. The voter registration materials, which should be delivered into Sudan in the next few days, must be distributed to all the registration sites. In addition, domestic and international monitors must be positioned to oversee this process, to guard against manipulation.
At the same time, the parties have to resolve other CPA issues: border demarcation and Abyei. The Abyei referendum has been a big challenge for both parties. While it is still scheduled to take place on the 9th
of January, the parties have so far been unable to agree on who should be eligible to vote in this referendum. To help resolve this problem, the parties asked the United States to facilitate talks on Abyei for two days in New York in late September. These talks continued for another nine days in Addis Ababa in early October.
During these negotiations, the parties reached consensus on a number of important issues but ultimately concluded that the Abyei issue would have to be decided as part of a broader set of issues that include all the unresolved CPA and post-CPA issues. The next round of talks is scheduled to begin at the end of this month in Ethiopia and they’ll be convened by President Thabo Mbeki, the chairman of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel.
The CPA parties have expressed a strong desire for the United States to participate in these talks, and we will be there. With time running out, the parties must make a strategic commitment to work together to avoid war, to achieve a lasting peace. The parties must be prepared to come to Addis with an attitude of compromise to reach a final agreement on these remaining tough issues. The entire world is watching and will make judgments based on how the parties approach these talks, on how they act in the next couple months. We urge both the NCP and the SPLM to take necessary efforts to cooperate and to demonstrate good faith.
Specifically, we’ll be watching the Government of Sudan to ensure they transfer necessary funds to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, that they grant required visas to international monitors and aid workers, that they protect the Southerners who are now living in the North. President Obama is serious about moving toward better relations with Sudan. We have presented both parties with the steps that we are prepared to take in response to concrete achievements both in CPA implementation and in Darfur. These steps include shifting our licensing regulations to allow more trade and investment in Sudan, exchanging ambassadors, supporting debt relief, and ultimately removing the foreign assistance restrictions and lifting economic sanctions.
Getting to full normalization will require not only progress on the CPA, but also in the comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur. The President is equally committed to ending the conflict in Darfur as he is to full implementation of the CPA. We continue to support the Doha process by our involvement there and we continue to support the efforts of UN peacekeepers and the international humanitarian organizations as they seek to improve security and living conditions for those in Darfur. We call upon all the armed movements, including those that are now absent from Doha, to engage in a peaceful negotiation. There can be no peace in Sudan without peace in Darfur.
As you can see, much remains to be done in the next few months by both parties, but the United States is committed to helping Sudan achieve a lasting peace, to helping Sudan get that stable and secure and prosperous future that the Sudanese people need and that they deserve.
Thank you, and let me now turn it over to Assistant Secretary Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON:
Thank you. General Gration, thank you very much and good morning to all of you in the audience.
As General Gration said, the United States has intensified its diplomatic efforts in the critical make-or-break period that we are now in with respect to Sudan. I would like to take a few minutes to elaborate on the tremendous importance of peace and stability in Sudan to Africa, and also talk a little bit about our diplomatic surge in Southern Sudan.
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 was a monumental achievement for Sudan, as well as the rest of the East African region. Key African governments and stakeholders played a crucial role in the negotiations leading up to the CPA, and they have remained engaged as the parties have worked toward the agreement’s full implementation.
The United States Government has worked closely with Sudan’s neighbors and with the members of IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to bring about the CPA. And we will continue to work with those governments and organizations to ensure the implementation of the agreement.
As General Gration described, the CPA parties and the Sudanese people are approaching crucial and critical milestones that will make critical decisions along the way over the next nine months. These decisions will also impact the lives of Kenyans, Ethiopians, Ugandans, Egyptians, and others, and that is why regional leaders are actively engaged in this process. They have a central role to play in helping the parties fully implement the CPA, reach equitable arrangements that will govern the relationship between North and South Sudan in the post-CPA period, and reach the end of the interim period in a peaceful manner. And if Southern Sudan does vote for independence, they will have a stake in ensuring that it will be a stable and prosperous neighbor.
As a part of our regional diplomacy, we have been in close communication with President Museveni of Uganda; Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya; and the chairperson of the African Union, Jean Ping. We’ve also been in close diplomatic contact with senior officials in the Egyptian Government.
Among regional leaders, I want to especially recognize the role of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for the support that he has given to the full implementation of the agreement. Prime Minister Meles has been a key interlocutor for both parties over the past month as they have worked for a way forward relating to Abyei in the post-CPA status agreements.
In addition to regional leaders, the African continent as a whole has also sought to play an important role. The African Union has formed a high-level implementation panel for Sudan, which is led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. President Mbeki has also been central to facilitating discussions between the parties on the post-referendum arrangements and will bring both parties together next week for crucial discussions about these issues and the remaining CPA items.
As General Gration has said, the parties must come prepared to compromise and to make hard decisions on Abyei and other outstanding issues. The world will be watching these talks very closely. And we are working very closely with President Mbeki and his team and hope they will press the parties to make the right decisions.
Let me now turn to our own U.S. diplomatic efforts in the field. In the past months, the United States Government has made a concerted effort to extend and expand our diplomatic presence in Sudan and to prepare for the potential outcome of the referendum. To that end, we have more than doubled our official presence in Southern Sudan and deployed a senior diplomat, Ambassador Barrie Walkley, to lead our mission in Juba.
Secretary Clinton has appointed Ambassador Princeton Lyman, a skilled negotiator and a widely respected former diplomat in the region, the head of the U.S. negotiations support unit in Sudan, to facilitate the talks on outstanding CPA and post-CPA issues.
Following the talks in Addis, Ambassador Lyman and his team remained in the region where they are today, and have been traveling between Juba and Khartoum to impress upon the parties the importance of reaching agreements and taking swift action to prepare for the January referendum.
We are currently moving into a second phase of diplomatic expansion in Sudan that will provide a more robust field presence in the provincial capitals throughout the south. This will nearly triple our diplomatic presence in Southern Sudan. Ambassador Walkley and his team in Juba are now supported by personnel, from the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, and they are making important contributions in the field of field-based planning, conflict monitoring and mitigation, and security sector reform.
USAID continues to work with our implementing partners on a wide range of development initiatives, focused on good governance, conflict prevention, promoting education, building infrastructure, and revitalizing the agricultural section – sector.
The stakes for the Sudanese people are extraordinarily high. And we will continue to work closely with our African partners in all of our diplomatic efforts to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in that region.
I’d now like to turn the microphone over to Samantha Power to discuss our multilateral approach to this issue. Thank you.
Hi, everybody. It’s great to be here. Special Envoy Gration and Assistant Secretary Carson have discussed the range of diplomatic actions taken by the U.S. Government to get the parties on the ground to choose peace. What we know from our long history of tracking events in Sudan is that other voices in the international community are also critical in the cause of peace. And we have worked tirelessly to strengthen the various multilateral mechanisms on the ground and outside of Sudan, a couple of which Johnnie mentioned, and also to get other countries to bring their voices and their resources to bear. So I’d just like to give you a flavor of those efforts here today.
In early September, as many of you recall, President Obama announced that he would attend a high-level event chaired in New York at the gathering of heads of state around the UN, the opening of the UN General Assembly. This was an event chaired by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Initially, I think it was envisaged as a ministerial or as a high-level event. And the announcement by President Obama that he would attend that event, generated widespread interest from heads of state and foreign ministers from all of the key actors in the international community, including China, Russia, Ethiopia and Egypt and Sudan’s other neighbors, each of whom have critical roles to play at this time.
The occasion – this event on September 24th
in New York and, more importantly, the communiqué that grew out of it, constituted an unprecedented show of international unity behind a couple key messages. One, that the referenda must go off on time, that they must be peaceful, and that they must reflect the will of the people of South Sudan. And two, that the countries in the international community, as represented in the communiqué and at this event in New York, pledge to recognize the results of the referenda, irrespective of the outcome. This is – both these steps – this show of international unity again was critically important.
As many of know, the parties on the ground have a rich history of playing actors in the international community off against one another, and this occasion in New York and the President’s – President Obama’s message, but also the messages by even the parties themselves, signaled that there was international unity around these two points and that there was no daylight among international actors who have stakes in the events and the occurrences on the ground in Sudan.
Back here in Washington, it is impossible to overstate the degree of high-level attention being given to Sudan at the White House. President Obama has instructed his entire Administration to engage in a full-court press to convince the parties to choose the path of peace. Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough is chairing – sometimes daily – Sudan meetings at the White House; at least three meetings a week, which, in terms of scale of White House attention, again, is extremely high. He’s also briefing President Obama daily on the events in Sudan.
This high-level attention has also produced action and outreach by the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State, of course Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, and the chairman of the Joint Staff Admiral Mullen. All of these high-level officials have been enlisted regularly in efforts to convince the parties to act in the interest of their own people, or to help mobilize international resources to support the parties and the international organizations who are active on the ground and who are critical on the ground.
We are working with the International Organization of Migration to help IOM secure the resources they need to assist with out-of-country Sudanese voting. We are working with UNHCR and other UN and nongovernmental humanitarian actors to enhance preparedness for humanitarian contingencies. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to expeditiously grant visas and travel permits to international humanitarian elections and diplomatic officials. All of these officials, these personnel, the surge on the ground will be needed to prepare for and to monitor the coming votes.
And we are working hand-in-glove with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Haile Menkerios to help the UN mission in Sudan, the peacekeeping mission there – UNMIS – and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York address the gaps that they have identified in UNMIS’s resources and in their preparedness for the coming vote.
The Security Council, of course, is a critical venue for international action on Sudan. Ambassador Rice just participated in a trip by the Security Council to the region in which the U.S. led the visit to Southern Sudan, while the UK organized and led the visit to the North. This trip, again, was one more message from the Permanent Five Members of the Security Council and the rest of the membership that the international community was united and that they shared resolve around full implementation of the CPA.
In the Council, we continue to support the Sudan Sanctions Committee panel of experts, which plays a critical role in monitoring existing sanctions in Darfur, including compliance with the arms embargo and targeted sanctions measures.
We are also coordinating with our two troika partners, who are each stepping up on critical negotiations that are underway. Norway has taken the lead in offering technical advice on oil revenue sharing, given its deep expertise in that area. And the UK is helping with international discussion on eventual debt relief and they are facilitating some of the border demarcation discussions, given their history in Sudan and familiarity with the maps and borders of the past.
While the preparations for the referenda are behind schedule, I’d just like to close by pointing out that unlike the last two times in Sudan, unlike the last two times when Sudan was engulfed in conflict, this is a rare case in which the United States and other international players are teaming up to shine a spotlight on events on the ground proactively ahead of a key event.
The previous tragic chapters in Sudan’s history demonstrate that we need to work with this broad range of international actors to do all we can to prevent an outbreak of violence rather than to simply react later to events on the ground.
I’ll leave it there and take your question. We’ll all take your questions. Thank you.
QUESTION: Nadia Bilbassy with MBC Television Middle East Broadcasting Center. Thank you very much for doing this. As you know, Abyei has taken a central stage in terms of the obstacles, and so far, all negotiation has failed. What would – you talked just now about compromise. What would the United States envisage in terms of bridging the gap, and what do you want them to compromise on specifically considering that there’s so many nomads come in and out and nobody knows who’s had the right to vote in Abyei?
And just a quick follow-up. This – there is defense minister sitting in Cairo that he doesn’t think that a referendum should take time on January 9th
and should be postponed. Is this something the United States would consider?
MR. GRATION: I’ll answer your last part of your question first. We are committed to on-time referenda in both Abyei and in Southern Sudan. And it is really up to the parties to take the decisions and to take the actions that will make this is a reality. That’s what the Comprehensive Peace Agreement stipulates and that’s what we’re holding the parties to.
Now, in terms of Abyei, the parties are going to have to make some tough decisions, and that’s what the talks in Addis are about. It creates an environment where the NCP and the SPLM can come and talk about how they’re going to resolve this issue. As you know, with 79 days remaining, they’re going to have to work very hard and very fast to get an agreement. But it is really up to them to decide how they want to resolve this in a way that gives the people of Abyei and opportunity to decide whether they’ll stay as a special status in the North or whether they’ll go to the South should the South choose independence. It really is up to the parties, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that they come up with an agreement that is a win-win for both sides.
It is really up to them. They are the parties of the CPA, and if they do anything that will be an agreement that will facilitate this, it will have to be up to them to come to that agreement. Obviously, as facilitators, we expect that Chairman Mbeke can help bring the parties together. We will use what we can to help the parties reach an agreement. But it is really up to them, and all that we can do is create an environment where they can get down to the issues and resolve those issues and come up with an agreement that works for both sides.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: And thank you. Abderrahim Foukara from Al Jazeera. General Gration, you mentioned the Southerners in the North post-referendum. And obviously, that brings to mind the 1947 partition of India with the concomitant tragedies of mass displacement across the border but also, the tensions between India and Pakistan that continue until today. Is that a scenario that you envisage could happen down the road for Sudan?
And I have a quick question for Mr. Carson: As you know, people will read in the referendum what they want to read in it. And some people will say instead of helping heal the rift between the worlds of Islam and Christianity, the referendum is actually an endorsement of a new fracture between those two worlds. I wonder how you would address that.
MR. GRATION: I’ll start with the citizenship issue. This is a grave concern for us. We want to make sure that Northerners that are in the South and Southerners that in the North have protection of their human rights and physical security through this turbulent period. And so there have been a lot of, let’s say, suggestions on how we can bridge this period. And it is again up to the parties to come up with a way that will ensure that there is not an increase in tensions, that there is not unrest and violence. And we’re holding the parties accountable to make sure that all citizens remain safe until their citizenship is ultimately sorted out. Whether the North – the Southerners in the North move to the South or whether they’re given work permits or whether they’re given citizenship, these are issues that have to happen.
Now, I will tell you that in my discussions with both the North and the South, they’ve committed to us that they will ensure that these individuals are taken care of. That commitment has been made by the key leaders in the North and key leaders in the South, and we will hold them and the international community accountable to make sure that it happens.
That said, we’re going to have to make sure that we understand and have contingency plans. And you raise some very, very good issues, but in the end it really is up to the parties to make sure that the citizens of their country are protected in a way that meets international standards. And that’s what we’ll hold them accountable to.
This is one of the issues that will be discussed in the next round of Addis, and we will make sure that it is resolved in a way that does protect the interests of all individuals in Sudan.
MS. POWER: Could I just add one point before Johnnie responds, or actually just a couple of points. One, we met yesterday at the White House with an ecumenical delegation from Sudan who are in touch, for instance, with Southerners living in the North, who, of course, expressed concerns. We are trying to maximize our outreach to those communities and ascertain their intentions, their desires, both in terms of where they vote and in terms of their ultimate destiny. Obviously, the citizenship issue is at the heart of their concerns.
Second point, is that in the instances in which there’s been inflammatory rhetoric from particular Government of Sudan officials or if there’s rhetoric on the part of people in the South, Special Envoy Gration and Assistant Secretary Carson, the range of high-level cabinet officials that I’ve already mentioned have been enlisted very quickly to reach out to the parties, or as Johnnie mentioned, to reach out to those actors who have great leverage with the NCP to try to, again, calm the rhetoric knowing that in many cases the rhetoric itself can create tensions that themselves can unravel into unfortunate protection circumstances.
And then the third point is, as where Scott ended – and this was in my remarks as well – the humanitarian NGOs – OCHA, which coordinates the intergovernmental humanitarian efforts, UNHCR, IOM – we’re in very extensive conversations with them making sure that they’re also thinking through the contingencies. But again, it’s – as Scott said, the objective is for people to be safe where they are and where they want to be. That’s an international norm, it’s a Sudanese norm, and we need to just hold the parties, again, to their prior words.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON:
Let me just say that without presuming the outcome of the referenda, I would think that it is possible to have a independent southern state that lives in peace and harmony with a northern state which is largely Islamic. We hope that the negotiations that are underway with respect to post-CPA arrangements will put in place the kind of agreement and create the kind of environment in which two independent states can, in fact, live together in harmony.
You know that there will probably be Christians living in the North and there will probably continue to be large numbers of Muslims living in the South. We want that to occur in a peaceful and tranquil fashion. We see, today, throughout East Africa states that have large Muslim and Christian populations living harmoniously, and we see states that are largely Christian living next to Muslim states. We do not have to have a situation of animosity and warfare across the borders. We hope that the diplomacy that we’re engaged in now with the partners in the region will create the kind of division, if that is voted upon, that will ensure that the two states can, in fact, live together across a common border in a manner of peace of tranquility.
Thank you, Mr. Assistant Secretary. We are going to attempt to cross the digital divide right now and make sure our colleagues, our media colleagues in Africa get a couple of questions in. They can’t ask them directly so I will ask the panel myself.
This first one comes from Mr. Murithi Mutiga, the Sunday Nation, Nairobi, Kenya. Question: The U.S. Government has engaged in a rash of diplomatic efforts in recent weeks aimed at averting a violent fallout from the referenda. Considering the CPA has been on the table for the last five years, did the State Department leave it too late to engage actively on this issue?
I’ll start out with this. It may look like it has just been a rash in the recent weeks, but in reality, this has been going on for a long time. I must say that because of the timeline and because of the crunch, sure, there is a lot of activity that’s happening right now, because the sense of urgency has reached the point where we have to act, where the parties must act.
But this is really nothing new for the State Department. As you all know, President Bush had special envoys that he had appointed that were filling the gap from the time the CPA was signed in 2005 until the Obama Administration took over. President Obama appointed a full-time envoy, me, to spend my whole life working on Sudan. And I’ve got to tell you that since he appointed me, I have been working very hard every day along with a tremendous staff and along with an outstanding group of people that are in the region working the same problem.
So this is nothing new. It may appear that it’s new, but we’ve been engaged. The President has been engaged right from the beginning. Sudan has been a major issue for President Obama. He’s taken a personal interest, he’s given me access to him, and he’s taken my comments and inputs, and he has given me clear guidance on how to proceed. He has been very much involved.
The Secretary of State – Secretary Clinton has been superb. She has been involved. I communicate with her often. She has me into her office often and has been involved in giving guidance and receiving input. I can’t say enough for the State Department team. The whole organization has been involved the whole time I’ve been an envoy and it’s been absolutely superb.
As Samantha mentioned, the NSC and the White House has been extremely engaged, not just recently with these meetings that are being chaired right now at the NSC, but constantly with our Bureau for African Affairs and with the other organizations in the NSC. We have been tackling issues and working policy issues right from the start with a high up tempo and it may look like we’re just starting now, but this has been something that has been going on at a very high level and at an intensive level for the entire time that I’ve been here and I know it reaches back into the Bush Administration. So it is not too little too late. It is true that the time is running out and it’s up to the parties to take advantage of the remaining 79 days to make a difference.
Can I just add one point on that, which is that when we took office, not only was the CPA in need of implementation as not a lot had been achieved since 2005, but Chad and Sudan were also battling one another through proxies and the border was extremely unstable. And one of the things that Scott, in working with his international partners has been able to achieve, is to hold that conflict at bay and it has, at least on paper, been resolved. And we’re not seeing the violence that marred that region, that is the overt conflict between Sudan and Chad and the proxies. So that is a critical dog that is not barking right now that is also allowing us to intensify our focus on the implementation of the CPA and the referenda while also not taking our eye off the ball in Darfur, which experienced one of its more violent months, of course, back in May.
The other point I wanted to make is I spoke about the communiqué and I urge those of you who haven’t seen the communiqué from September to take a look at it because, again, it’s really quite extraordinary that the range of diplomatic players signed onto those commitments, including the parties, as forcefully as they did. But that communiqué doesn’t just come about overnight either. Vice President Biden took a swing through the region early in June, met with President Mubarak with whom we have an awful lot of business to do on multiple fronts, and made Sudan a priority topic for that conversation.
President Obama, when he has met with Hu Jintao always has Sudan high on the list of priorities and will continue to do so in our dealings with Hu Jintao and other Chinese officials going forward. I spoke with Ambassador Huntsman when he was in town about a week ago and he knows the priority that the President has placed on this issue. So I would just – again, the sort of groundwork for the Chad-Sudan peace for humanitarian organizations being let back into Darfur for the communiqué, these are the things that have been worked in the many months in advance of now this much more visible surge in international diplomacy.
Thank you, Samantha. We’ll take a second question from our colleagues in Africa. Mr. Nic Dawes from the Mail and Guardian, Johannesburg. Question: Is more robust intervention by the UN Security Council necessary or desirable to ensure that Sudan does not become a further threat to regional stability?
I think there’s no question that you’re going to see between now and January 9th
and beyond for all the outstanding CPA issues an intensified focus by the UN Security Council on this issue. Any adjustments to the peacekeeping presence on the ground, of course, would require additional Security Council action. Anything that departs from previous mandates and so forth. And I know Haile Menkerios, the Special Representative to the Secretary General, is looking at UNMIS and his resources and making tactical proposals and also looking ahead to the UN peacekeeping force that would be needed in the wake of the referenda, which may not be the same as that which was put in place for – in a different set of circumstances. So I think you can expect the Security Council to be even more seized of the issue.
I would note that, again, the Security Council trip that just was held that sort of swept through both North and South Sudan is a critical part of this. The fact that the permanent representatives in New York from Russia, China, the UK, the United States, various African players, that they’ve been there, that they’ve talked to the officials, that they feel the urgency and the concerns of ordinary Sudanese on the ground is a really important piece of humanizing this conflict. So I think that is only going to accentuate the focus of the various players. And the last thing I’ll say is just, again, reflective of this stepped-up focus.
I know that the head of the Department of Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, is going to be briefing the Council on Monday on UNMIS, on the situation on the ground in terms of elections preparations as seen by the UN. And again, those briefings are two-way streets. So you’re going to see, again, messages, I think, from the various international players who sit on the Council both toward questions in terms of – toward DPKO, but also very strong messages, again, back to the parties.
The Security Council is responsible for global peace and security and that’s a responsibility all the permanent and nonpermanent seat holders on the Council take very seriously. And everybody recognizes that these referenda implicate international, regional, and Sudanese peace and security and I think you’re going to see them staying well on top of it in the coming days.
Thank you, Samantha. If I could beg the indulgence of our panelists, I know your schedules are tight. If we could take one more question from our Washington colleagues. I hate to go to the front row all the time. How about you, Mina?
Thank you. Mina Al-Oraibi, Asharq-Alawsat Newspaper. I have a couple of questions really following up from your remarks. My first is: How concerned are you that there would be a need for changes for the peacekeeping forces at the moment? In Sudan, what kind of humanitarian concerns do you have on the ground? My other question is: For long-term relations with Sudan, you spoke, Assistant Secretary Carson, on relations with the Sudanese Government. In terms of normalization of relations, in terms of the carrot and stick, so to speak, in dealing with Sudan to try to make these referenda a success, could you speak a little bit more about that? Thank you.
Just on the peacekeeping issue, I would just say we have in Haile Menkerios one of the most able diplomats in the history of the UN system. And I think our instinct is always to be very deferential to people on the ground as they assess their needs. So we’re looking forward to the briefing on Monday, which comes on the heels of an UNMIS internal assessment that they’re now going to bring to the Council. So I think it’s best probably not to comment on any tactical adjustments that he might make. I think we want to hear directly from him.
In terms of the humanitarian contingencies – I mean, they run the gamut. I think you want to make sure that those Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South are – feel safe and secure to cast their – in the case of Southerners in the North, to cast their votes, that they are enfranchised, that in the event that they choose to either visit South Sudan or travel to South Sudan that they have freedom of movement, that in the event that they come to feel insecure, that they’re – that the resources are available in order to care for them if there were an influx of population in one direction or the other. It’s just really important that humanitarian organizations are prepared in those ways.
Again, nothing that you yourself wouldn’t be able to envisage; I think it’s just important given how much work everybody has to do in the day-to-day to also get people, ourselves included, to be looking ahead three, six months and just make sure that we’re prepared for contingencies as best we can be.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON:
The strategy that we are pursuing and the strategy that the White House has put in place and the strategy that Scott Gration has laid out very clearly to the Sudanese leadership does, in fact, provide a pathway towards a more normal relationship with the Government of Khartoum. But that pathway does require that we see the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, that we see the holding of the referenda on January 9, that we see the negotiation and agreement to the post-referenda issues that remain unresolved.
And it also requires the Sudanese Government to move forward with a comprehensive resolution of the problem in Darfur. We have put incentives on the table. We have changed some of our licensing procedures to reflect our desire to help provide an environment in which negotiations can move forward in a more positive direction. We have clearly indicated to the Sudanese Government that we are prepared to do more as they move to fully implement the agreements and commitments that they made back in Naivasha in 2005.
We want and desire a better and a stronger relationship with all of the people of Sudan, but that will be contingent upon their ability and desire and will to live up to the commitments that they have already made and that they now need to fulfill.
Okay. Thank you. That concludes the first half of our briefing today. I’d like to thank the panelists for taking the time to come here today, and on behalf of the FPC and all our colleagues in the media, I hope you come again as events in Sudan unfold.
Thank you. We will start the second half of the program in approximately five minutes. Thank you.
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