Home | News    Wednesday 30 August 2006

Sudan envoy to visit US to discuss Bush plea for Darfur

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Aug 29, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — Sudan’s president is sending an envoy to Washington to discuss a request by President Bush to allow a U.N. force into the war-torn Darfur region, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

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George W. Bush

The request was delivered to President Omar al-Bashir by Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi E. Frazer in a meeting at his home, spokesman Tom Casey said.

"She made a very clear case of what U.S. policy is, and he certainly listened to what she had to say," Casey said.

The U.N. force would incorporate an African Union force whose mandate in the region expires Sept. 30. Its replacement would be larger and better equipped.

"President Bashir said in response to the message from the president that he would be sending an envoy to Washington and that he would then provide a direct response," Casey said.

The Sudanese president has opposed a U.N. force on Sudanese territory and has said he plans to send government troops to Darfur to pacify the region.

Frazer also took up with the Sudanese president the arrest of an American journalist by pro-government forces in the Darfur region.

The reporter, Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune, his driver and interpreter were arrested Aug. 6. He was charged with espionage, passing information illegally, writing "false news" and entering the African country without a visa.

The State Department has said any judicial process should be fair and speedy.

Casey said he did not know what al-Bashir’s response might have been. He said Salopek was in good health and receiving frequent visits from U.S. diplomats assigned to the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.S. official said later there was no foundation to the spy charges but that some technical violation of immigration regulations could not be ruled out.

(AP/ST)

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