U.S. gives Su­dan dead­line to ac­cept UN plan for Dar­fur

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Ni­cholas Kralev

The United States has given Su­dan un­til the end of the year to ac­cept a three-stage U.N. pro­posal for an in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing force in Dar­fur be­fore re­sort­ing to a harsher “Plan B,” a se­nior U.S. en­voy said on Dec. 20.

The en­voy, Andrew S. Nat­sios, de­clined to dis­close de­tails of the plan, say­ing it was clas­si­fied. But diplo­mats say that a hu­man­i­tar­ian cor­ri­dor and a no-fly zone over Dar­fur are some of the mea­sures be­ing con­sid­ered.

“Mak­ing threats is not very use­ful, but we are go­ing to take a dif­fer­ent approach to this in Jan­uary, and there is a plan to do that,” Mr. Nat­sios told re­porters at the State De­part­ment af­ter brief­ing Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice on his trip to Su­dan two weeks ago.

“For us to con­tinue on the process of quiet diplo­macy, ne­go­ti­a­tion and a process to re­solve Dar­fur, then we need progress that’s op­er­a­tional, on the ground in Dar­fur [. . .] by the end of the year,” he said.

Mr. Nat­sios also said the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has been work­ing closely with Euro­pean al­lies on the fall­back plan, al­though Arab and African coun­tries have yet to be brought on board.

Many Arab gov­ern­ments back U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Kofi An­nan’s pro­posal for a three-stage de­ploy­ment of a 20,000-strong “hy­brid” peace­keep­ing force that in­cludes troops from the United Na­tions and African Union, he said.

Mr. An­nan sent an en­voy to Khartoum with a let­ter out­lin­ing the stages, and Mr. Nat­sios said Wash­ing­ton needs an of­fi­cial, writ­ten re­sponse from the Su­danese gov­ern­ment.

The first phase calls for a team of about 100 U.N. mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers and civil­ian lo­gis­tics staff, about 60 of whom are stuck in Khartoum, await­ing per­mis­sion to go to Dar­fur. In the sec­ond stage, 2,000 troops would be de­ployed, with the re­main­ing troops ar­riv­ing in the third phase.

Mr. An­nan’s pro­posal is a com­pro­mise af­ter Khartoum’s re­jec­tion of a July res­o­lu­tion by the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil call­ing for a U.N. force to take over from a largely in­ef­fec­tive AU force.

“It is ex­tremely im­por­tant [to de­ploy] a ro­bust peace­keep­ing force that can ac­tu­ally help to end the vi­o­lence and bring re­lief to the many in­no­cent men, women and chil­dren who are suf­fer­ing in Su­dan,” Miss Rice said.

The Dar­fur con­flict be­tween mostly non-Arab rebels and gov­ern­ment-spon­sored mili­tias, which Wash­ing­ton has called geno­cide, be­gan in 2003. The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court is in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble war crimes in the re­gion, where an­a­lysts es­ti­mate that 200,000 have been killed and more than 2 mil­lion dis­placed.

Re­cent at­tacks on Dar­fur aid work­ers’ com­pounds in the town of Gereida have forced the evac­u­a­tion of 71 staff mem­bers and se­verely re­stricted hu­man­i­tar­ian aid reach­ing the re­gion’s largest pop­u­la­tion of war vic­tims, of­fi­cials said.

About 20 armed men at­tacked the South Dar­fur town on Dec. 18, seiz­ing a dozen ve­hi­cles and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and al­most par­a­lyz­ing aid op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to wire ser­vice re­ports.

“It’s mas­sive and hugely de­struc­tive and has se­verely dis­rupted aid op­er­a­tions,” said Alun McDon­ald, spokesman for the Bri­tish aid or­ga­ni­za­tion Ox­fam, which had five ve­hi­cles stolen and whose com­pound was fired on dur­ing the at­tack.

As­so­ci­ated Press

U.S. en­voyAn­drew S. Nat­sios briefed Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice Dec. 20 in Wash­ing­ton on his trip to Su­dan. Miss Rice em­pha­sized the need for a “ro­bust peace­keep­ing force” to end the vi­o­lence in the Dar­fur re­gion of Su­dan.

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