Home | News    Thursday 17 July 2003

U.S. envoy stresses Bush’s commitment to peace in Sudan

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KHARTOUM, July 17, 2003 (dpa) — Former U.S. Senator, John Danforth, President George Bush’s Special Envoy for Peace to Sudan, on Thursday stressed Bush’s commitment to a just peace settlement in war-damaged-Sudan and the right to self-determination for the people of southern Sudan.

Speaking at a press conference in the U.S. embassy in Khartoum he said peace should be "based on the Machakos framework principles of unity", and expressed optimism that such a peace deal would be achieved in Sudan.

"The discussions that I have held with officials of the government of Sudan have been substantive discussions on specific issues and there has been a procedural discussion about how we might proceed," he stated.

Danforth said the U.S. believed that peace negotiations should be conducted under the forum of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

"We recognise that there has been what we call glitches along the way in the peace process, but I came out of the meetings that I held very encouraged about the peace," the envoy noted.

He said he had been assured by the government of Sudan that it would continue to be "very committed to the peace process in the country".

He said he had stressed to all officials he met in Khartoum that "there should be some sense of urgency to end the war", which he said "was the source of human misery in the Sudan".

Danforth went on to say that the "Sudanese should be aware of the fact that the world’s eyes are focused on them", including the U.S. and President Bush, the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, the European community, the Arab League, the government of Egypt, IGAD and countries surrounding Sudan.

This kind of momentum is short-lived so it would be important to maintain the focus the envoy remarked.

On Friday he is due to meet with John Garang, leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Danforth will also meet with the Kenyan chief mediator General Lazarus Sumbeiywo. He said he hoped that the outcome of these meetings would put "a greater impetus on the part of all parties towards the peace process".

Danforth arrived in Khartoum, Wednesday, on a two-day official visit to Sudan.

He met with the Sudanese President General Omer El Bashir and his deputy, Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, in addition to the peace adviser to the president Dr Ghazi Salah Eddin and Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.

He said that he had told El Bashir that Bush was very interested in the peace process and that he looked forward to the normalisation of relations between the United States and Sudan after a peace agreement was signed.

On the possibility of a meeting between El Bashir and SPLA leader John Garang, he said it was always important that the top leaders meet to overcome difficulties but he said he could not say when they would be meeting.

"I have over a period of time thought that it would be advantageous for the two leaders to get together and exchange ideas. I always believed that is useful," he said.

He said he did not know if this week would be a particularly propitious time for that meeting but as a general rule it would be important for the two leaders to get together on a substantive basis and not just for photo opportunities.

On Saturday the warring parties to the peace talks organised in Nakuru, Kenya failed to reach a peace deal after the government negotiating team described the IGAD’s draft proposal as "unfair, contradictory and unfit to constitute a basis for negotiation".

"If the Sudanese sides allow the situation of no-peace drag on and on the whole process of negotiations would fall apart and then it is going to be an even worse human tragedy," Danforth said.

He said such a situation could not be allowed to happen.

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