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Correction: France expresses surprise at Sudan accusations over rebel assault

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May 27, 2008 — Please take note that Bruno Joubert has denied in an email contact with Sudan Tribune any plan to visit Khartoum follwing the rebel JEM attack on the Sudanese capital on May 10.

Sudan Tribune said in this news paper that Khartoum had refused to receive Joubert to discuss Sudanese insinuated accusations against Paris.

May 25, 2008 (PARIS) — The French government expressed surprise at accusations by the Khartoum of supporting the rebel assault on the Sudanese capital to overthrow the government.

A French official speaking to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity said that his government “is diligently working to defuse the tensions in its relation with Khartoum”.

The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) fighters mounted an assault on the Sudanese capital that took the government and international community by surprise. However the Sudanese government repulsed the attack and accused Chad of backing JEM in its attempt.

Sudanese officials also implicitly pointed fingers at France saying the latter provided satellite information to JEM rebels on the best route towards Khartoum.

The Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir told a group of Sudanese expatriates today in South Korea that a “European country” gave satellite intelligence to the rebels.

But the French official scathingly dismissed the allegations saying that “the Sudanese need to review the performance of their intelligence agencies rather than try to throw the blame on other parties”.

The official also disclosed that Paris is awaiting a response from Khartoum on an invitation extended to the Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor and the presidential adviser Mustafa Ismail to discuss the strain in relations.

But today the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner met Ismail in Beirut, Lebanon on the sidelines of a ceremony inaugurating a new president. Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA) quoted Kouchner as condemning the JEM attack on the capital and reiterating the French efforts to bring peace to Darfur.

Sudan’s hinting at France’s involvement marks further deterioration in relations between the two countries.

France has a long-term military presence in Chad, one of its former colonies, giving the government intelligence and logistic support.

Khartoum has been furious at France for hosting leader of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur and has persistently demanded that he be expelled.

Last March French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned what he called the "deliberate and disproportionate" use of force by Sudan in the killing of a French soldier serving with European Union forces in Chad (EUFOR).

The defense ministry in Paris said the soldiers who strayed across the border encountered a Sudanese checkpoint and quickly declared their identity, but were fired on without warning.

The Sudanese government has strongly opposed the French backed initiative for deployment of the 3,700-strong EUFOR mission being deployed in eastern Chad to protect refugees displaced by violence in neighboring Sudan’s Darfur region.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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