|USUN Press Release|
New York, New York
July 24, 2007
Remarks by Andrew S. Natsios, The President's Special Envoy for Sudan, on Sudan at the Security Council Stakeout
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: I am Andrew Natsios and I am the Special Envoy of the United States on Darfur. I had very productive meetings this morning with the Secretary-general, Ban – Ki moon, and then meetings with Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Undersecretary-General for peacekeeping operations. Released on July 26, 2007
Let me talk first about the political process, I attended for the US government, the Tripoli meeting which concluded last week. I thought it was a great success. It now lays out a timetable with specific steps that will be taken by the United Nations and the AU to reenergize the political process. Without a political settlement there will be no end to the Darfur crisis. That is the ultimate objective of all of this. The peacekeeping operation is a means toward an end, it’s going to help facilitate the implementation of a peace agreement, but until Tripoli last week, we did not have a unified international position on a peacekeeping, on the issue of the political negotiations that we do now. There will be a meeting that starts next week of the rebels with the UN and the AU and neighboring countries that have a profound influence over this process. They will attempt to go over what has happened and what the process will look like in the future and then by the end of August Jan Eliasson said, and Salim Salim that they will issue invitations to a formal conference that they expect will begin in September.
I might add from my perspective, and from the US government perspective, unless the internally displaced people, and the refugees, and the traditional tribal leaders, and women’s groups are included in the process in some way, formal way, we will not have significant enough representation to make sure this time, that a negotiation settlement has broad support. So that is something we did include in the Tripoli communiqué. It’s very important that there be broad support for any agreement and so the inclusion of civil society, the traditional leaders, the IDPs in this process we think is critically important to the success of it.
And finally we need a peacekeeping force in Darfur to enforce some of the central provisions of any agreement. For example, the issue of disarmament is very important. Unless heavy weapons are taken away from both the rebels and the militias that have been allied with the government, this war will not end. And that will have to be part of any agreements in the DPA now. The rebels have told me they will not give their weapons to the Sudanese government, they will give them to the United Nations and the AU but not to the Sudanese government. So we need the force to have a clear mandate for disarmament, demobilization of forces on both sides in order to bring peace to Darfur. We also need protection for the humanitarian aid effort and for internally displaced peoples who have been the object of attacks and so it is very important that this resolution get through in terms of the peacekeeping operation that was recently agreed to by the Sudanese government in terms of the hybrid force. Are there any questions?
Reporter: Are you concerned that you have enough agreement from the rebels to attend those talks because the rebels tend to grow over time in a tremendous way. So are you sure you have a united rebel front?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: The first -- this is only the beginning of a series of meetings, okay? This is not the final negotiations, the Sudanese government is not going to be there negotiating. This is just a meeting of the rebels. The agreement in-- the most prominent personalities will be invited. I think the overwhelming majority of the people who are invited will attend. I just want to say for the US government that any rebel leader who is invited and does not attend from our perspective is being obstructionist. We’ll see who goes but the most prominent leaders are going to be asked to attend. There will be some military commanders who attend because there is an issue of making sure the military commanders have some say in this because of course they have guns on the ground.
Reporter: What would you say is the state of US consideration of lending this logistical and aerial perhaps support to the hybrid mission once it’s begun? How serious is the US really looking at that kind of support?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: Well, if I were asked I would strongly oppose any use of military force by the United States simply because politically right now in Darfur it would create the wrong impression. I think it would be used in terms of the Sudanese government. It is not what we need right now, we have plenty of other volunteers for logistical support from some European democracies under Phase I and Phase II that have made offers. And I think as you will see this will unfold, there will be sufficient forces. But it’s not a wise, just for symbolism of it, the United States is being the tough guy in this. We were the only ones that imposed unilateral sanctions on the Sudanese government, very tough sanctions that are affecting the whole dynamic here, and so I think it would be unwise for us to do that.
Reporter: How far would the sponsors of the resolution should go to obtain the agreement of the Sudanese government in your opinion, especially that they will need the Sudanese government in all aspects of the hybrid force?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: Well the Sudanese government resisted this whole effort under 1706 that was approved last August, that’s why we’re still here discussing this. The Sudanese government should not have veto power over what happens. But they have made an agreement with Ban Ki-moon, a negotiated agreement that in fact was part of the Addas agreement of November 16 of last year. I was at that meeting, I helped negotiate that, Sudanese government agreed to it. I think what’s important now is that we hold the Sudanese government accountable for what they agree to. They agreed to Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III, the hybrid force. That agreement was reached several weeks ago. They need to implement now what they have agreed to do. So once this resolution is through the Sudanese government needs to be cooperative
Reporter: It sounded as though you were indicating that there would be obviously a very small American footprint on this, if any at all. Is there…
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: Let me just say something. We’re paying a billion dollars. We’re the largest donor in Sudan for the humanitarian operation and we will…
Reporter: For the hybrid force I’m asking about.
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: I’m talking about the hybrid force too, 26 percent of the cost of all UN peacekeeping operations is paid for by the United States government. So in terms of our financial and diplomatic commitment it’s there. The United States has never been, no one has been urging on any side the sending of US troops to Darfur. We have some observers there…
Reporter: Can I ask my question? Essentially, Ambassador Khalilzad was here yesterday suggesting the Americans were exploring ways that they might provide some sort of support and the indication was possibly logistical support and you seemed to rule it out.
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: Logistical support in moving people is different. I thought you meant people on the ground.
Reporter: No, no, no. (Inaudible) It sounded like you ruled out logistical saying there were other people so just give us a sense of what you’re talking about?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: When I think of logistics, I thought you meant sending units that would be stationed under the heavy support package on the ground because those are the logistics units that have been called for. Well, I think we helped transport many of the African troops there in the first place. The AMIS troops that are there had heavy US air support to get them there in the first place. I’m sure we would explore those sorts of logistics but in terms of putting American logistical units in Darfur as part of the units that will be permanently assigned there, that is what I was referring to.
Reporter: So you’re only talking about things like possibly lift transport?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: I mean we’ve done that before, I’m sure we would consider it again.
Reporter: Can you break down the one billion dollar…
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: That is for humanitarian assistance, for food aid, for non-food assistance, for support to the NGOs, the UN, the ICRC.
Reporter: But none of it is in directly related to the heavy package?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: Well as a matter of fact the camps that the AMIS forces are staying in now are entirely funded by the US government and built in fact by the State Department through our contractor. So they built facilities, they run facilities, they feed the troops, they provide sanitation showers, billeting for the troops and in fact all of their support in the camps.
Reporter: Sir, in your talks with the Sudan government sir, would you consider lifting the US sanctions against Sudan in case they comply with the Darfur issue and the hybrid force?
Mr. Andrew S. Natsios: We told the Sudanese government a long time ago that the only way there’s going to be an improvement in relations between the United States and Darfur, is if the Darfur crisis is settled, not on paper, in reality on the ground. Because the history of this regime over eighteen years is filled with agreements that are never implemented. So we’re interested, if the Sudanese government is serious about improving relations with the United States, they need to implement the agreements they’ve made with Ban Ki-moon. They need to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. They are not implementing the elections and the census provisions of that which are critically important to have the elections that are required in 2009 for the whole country that are in the CPA. That is an essential part of the transformation of Sudan into a democratic state. So we urge them to implement what they signed in the CPA. They’ve implemented some important parts of the CPA. For example, the other armed groups, the militias in the South, they have been disarmed. They have not withdrawn their troops from the oil fields yet. Last Tuesday was the deadline, two weeks ago was the deadline for all Northern troops to be out of Southern Sudan, they’re not out of Southern Sudan. They need to leave, they need to deal with the Abyei issue. They need to deal with issue of the border. All these issues that are in the CPA have not been implemented and from our perspective it is very important that the CPA be implemented as it was written.
Thank you very much.