WASHINGTON, July 22, 2004 (dpa) — Initial reports by a U.S. team sent to examine the violence carried out by militias in western Sudan are "very disturbing", Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.
Powell said he plans on presenting the information to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan when they meet in New York later Thursday to discuss the atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The two men are also to discuss a U.S.-backed resolution within the Security Council seeking to pressure the Sudanese government to halt its support for Janjaweed militias responsible for the violence that has left at least 30,000 people dead.
"The initial reporting that I have received is very disturbing as to the actions of the Janjaweed and how the Janjaweed were supported by the government of Sudan," Powell said.
Powell visited Khartoum earlier this month to urge the Sudanese government to stop the attacks by the Arabic militias against black Africans. U.S. and U.N. officials have called the violence in Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The United States is examining whether the onslaught meets the legal threshold to be considered genocide.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States wanted to strengthen the proposed resolution, but did not say whether that would include international sanctions against Sudan.
"We are certainly looking to strengthen the resolution," Boucher said, adding there appeared to be support within the United Nations for putting some "teeth" in the resolution.
The current wording would impose sanctions only on the Janjaweed.
"I don’t think we’re alone in saying that we think it’s time for a strengthened international effort and strengthened resolution," Boucher said.