Home | News    Sunday 27 August 2006

US envoy gets chilly welcome from Sudanese president

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Aug 27, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan has reserved a chilly welcome to US envoy Jendayi Frazer who arrived yesterday to persuade a defiant president to accept the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in strife-torn Darfur.

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U.S. diplomat to Africa, Jendyai Frazer, center, received by Cameron Hume, the US charge d’affairs in Khartoum Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006 (AP).

After the angry mob at the Khartoum Airport orchestrated by the ruling National Congress Party, Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir said that Frazer’s mission would do little to change his country’s position.

"We will not hand over our country to international forces, whether Frazer comes here or not... Frazer might be accustomed to hearing ’yes’ from many leaders but here she’ll get a ’no’," Beshir said Sunday.

Bashir was speaking before a meeting with the Sudanese journalist in Diaspora. It was not immediately clear who Frazer would be meeting during her visit.

Washington has been piling pressure on the regime to accept the deployment of thousands of UN troops to replace an embattled African Union contingent and bolster a fragile peace deal reached in May with one of Darfur rebel groups.

Presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa told reporters that the president reiterated "Sudan’s firm rejection of a British draft resolution calling for dispatching international forces to Darfur" during a meeting Saturday with AU Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare.

Before leaving Washington, Frazer had warned of a massive military buildup in Darfur, where fighting and famine have left 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million homeless in three and half years.

"We are very, very, very concerned about this — the buildup of military forces," Frazer had said, adding that both government forces and rebel factions that rejected the Abuja peace deal appeared poised for fresh fighting.

"The message I am taking to President Beshir is to amplify what the president (Bush) has said many times — the United States interest is in ending the suffering of the people of Darfur."

Frazer stressed that Washington was not seeking a UN deployment without a green light from Khartoum.

She also suggested that some of the sanctions already in place against the Sudanese regime for suspected terrorism links and human rights violations might be lifted if it agreed to accept UN peacekeepers.

Beshir has consistently opposed a UN deployment in Darfur and told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Khartoum would deploy 10,500 Sudanese troops to Darfur to provide security.

But Frazer said the Sudanese forces "aren’t considered neutral and so we don’t feel that the people of Darfur will get any comfort" from such a move.

(ST)

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