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White House Press Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, DC
January 17, 2008

President Bush Meets with Special Envoy for Sudan Rich Williamson

Oval Office
10:56 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: I've just had an extensive visit with Madam Secretary and members of my national security team; Rich Williamson, who is the Presidential Envoy -- Special Envoy to Sudan.

We talked about our common commitment and the commitment of this government to help the suffering of citizens in Sudan who, you know, suffer deprivation and rape. My administration called this a genocide. Once you label it "genocide" you obviously have to do something about it.

Our discussion centered upon our mutual desire to develop a strategy that will help the United Nations become more effective. The United Nations considers the Darfur issue a central issue, and it's on its agenda. We agree. The United States can help what has been a process, frankly, that has unfolded a little too slow for our liking. And we can help.

And secondly, we want to make sure that the peace agreement, negotiated through this administration by Ambassador Danforth between the north and south, holds. So Rich is going to report back to me quickly. And I plan to accelerate our efforts.

You know, America is probably wondering why, why do you care? And one of the reasons we care about the suffering in Sudan is because we care about the human condition all across the face of the earth. And we fully understand that when people suffer, it is in our interest to help. And we also understand that when people suffer it makes it more likely that some may turn to the ideology of those who use murder as a weapon. So it's in our national security interest and it's in our -- in the interest of our conscience to confront this, what we have called a genocide. And I want to thank you for taking this on.

AMBASSADOR WILLIAMSON: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It means a great deal and you've got my full support.

AMBASSADOR WILLIAMSON: I appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

END 11:00 A.M. EST

Released on January 17, 2008

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