Home | News    Thursday 9 April 2009

US gives Sudan 30 days to settle the issue of aid group expulsion: report

April 8, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – The US government wants Sudan to accept a proposal to resolve the gap left by Khartoum’s decision to expel more than a dozen aid groups from Darfur, according to a newspaper report.

The London based Al-Hayat newspaper said that US special envoy to Sudan J. Scott Gration laid down the proposal during his talks in Khartoum which he said he expects a response to them within a month time.

The report said that the special envoy proposed allowing some of the expelled aid groups or replacing others with international NGO’s that posses the sufficient experience and can be trusted by donors.

He also called for Khartoum to lift obstacles and red tape facing humanitarian work.

If Sudan accepts and implements the offer then Washington will resume dialogue with Khartoum on normalizing relations which was suspended last June under former US administration.

Gration began a week-log visit that took him to Darfur and Southern Sudan where he met with officials in the respective regions.

Speaking at a press conference today, the US official said he found situation in the IDP camps in Darfur “better than what he expected” though he said some camps are in desperate need of water and healthcare.

He urged Sudan to work hand in hand with the international community and NGO’s to find ways to improve life of Darfuri refugees and called for “creative” ideas in this regard.

Gration said the humanitarian situation in Darfur, ceasefire and repatriation of displaced population is a priority for Washington along with the implementation of the North-South Comprehensive peace agreement.

He called on all parties to work on creating a conducive environment for the upcoming elections in February 2010 and the referendum in the South scheduled for 2011.

The Sudanese presidential adviser said after his meeting with Gration, that he is hopeful that the US envoy’s visit would be the beginning of fruitful dialogue between the two sides and vowed that his government will do everything possible to further bilateral ties.

Gration also met with Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor and said afterwards that the talks were “constructive”.

The US said that he briefed the Sudanese foreign minister on the results of his visits to Darfur and Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, as well as Abyei, a disputed area between northern and southern Sudan.

Gration was briefed earlier by Sudanese armed forces on the security arrangements in Darfur as well as South Sudan.

The pro-government Sudanese Media Center (SMC) cited the deputy chief of staff Majzoub Rahma as saying that Gration requested the meeting to get current on the details of security protocols included in the CPA and the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in 2006.

The US envoy appeared to be taking a more conciliatory tone with Sudan since taking office and have said that he wants to work on improving the thorny relations between the two countries.

He said that he came “with my hands open” and hoped that Sudan’s government will respond “with a hand of friendship,” saying that “like all my American colleagues, Ana Ahib Sudan,” or “I love Sudan.”

The remarks signaled a shift in policy from the confrontational tone of the Bush administration particularly over the issue of Darfur.

The US and Sudan have a long history of strained relations. In 1997 former president Bill Clinton imposed comprehensive sanctions on Sudan and designated it as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The sanctions were later expanded and stiffened by subsequent US administrations. Moreover the US military launched a rocket attack against a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudanese capital suspected of manufacturing lethal nerve gas.

Relations further worsened over the Darfur conflict which Washington labeled as ‘genocide’ in 2004.