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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2004: African Affairs Remarks

Remarks on the Situation in Sudan

Ambassador John C. Danforth, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks following a meeting of the Security Council in Nairobi
Nairobi, Kenya
November 18, 2004

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: I think I can speak for all members of the Security Council that we feel that this was a remarkable day, very positive, both this morning and afternoon. The issues that divided Dr. Garang and Vice President Taha were so narrow that basically it was only one issue, and that is the arrangement for paying for the army of the SPLM/SPLA.  And that is an issue that really should be resolved, because it's essentially coming up with numbers. So we felt very positive about it and one of the good things about today was the obvious chemistry between the two sides, and the optimism that was expressed by both sides.  We feel that is very good.

QUESTION: Ambassador, this signing the memorandum of understanding is obviously very different than signing the actual peace agreement itself. Can you put your hand on your heart and say that you are truly confident that a peace deal will be signed by December 31?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: I can say that I am very encouraged by the fact that both sides are going to sign this agreement of understanding tomorrow, that they are going to sign it in the presence of the Security Council. It will be witnessed by the members of the Security Council, and both sides realize that time is of the essence. So I feel as good as I can about it. Now I have been at this issue for more than three years; until there is peace, and until both sides are really working at the process of building a country together, until then, it's really all paper. So, the business of keeping a country glued together and making a country where people live together and work together, that's an ongoing process; there's never any end to it. It doesn't end with the signing of any agreement, any memorandum, any agreement at all. It's a continuing thing, it's a very long term process. But the signing of the memorandum tomorrow is very positive and shows a real commitment by both sides.

QUESTION: Last year, Colin Powell came to Kenya and everybody was told exactly the same thing -- very positive, fantastic chemistry, basically their signature by Christmas. What has exactly changed between this year and that year -- this year and last year, the previous year -- that this is the real one?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: I am very hesitant to make any predictions -- just as I said, I've been at this for three years and there have been disappointments and there have been agreements, and there have been agreements over a long period of time.
On the other hand, I think that both sides recognize that there is certainly isn't any military solution to this problem, and that they have worked out the basic principles that separated them.  They've worked out a whole series of protocols that deal with the most difficult problems that are before them and now we are down to essentially one issue, and it's a narrow issue. And I also think that they realize that the danger of not reaching an agreement and allowing the existing problem of Sudan (inaudible) I don't think either side wants a failed state, especially one as central as Sudan is.

QUESTION:  Did you put money on the table today?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: Did I put money on the table?

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: No, no, no. But, I mean, clearly there's an interest on the part of the world to try to help Sudan and the Government of Norway is going to host a pledging conference, and I am confident that there is going to be very, very substantial support for Sudan, provided that there is peace -- and I mean throughout the country.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) investigate allegations of genocide, and it is expected that results will come sometime in January and I'm wondering what the implications might be of their findings if they declare that genocide has occurred in Darfur. What are the implications for the UN and the UN Security Council in particular?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: I don't want to prejudge what anybody finds or what the implications are on something as hypothetical as that. I really can't answer that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: Can you say that a little louder?

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) status of the draft resolution?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: The draft resolution has been -- we just finished a discussion of the draft resolution and all 15 members of the Council are in agreement, so it will be adopted tomorrow as a presidential resolution.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: I think it's a good balanced resolution -- it's one that's very realistic about the problems, it's one that clearly recognizes the tragedy of Darfur and recognizes the fact that we have already passed two resolutions on this subject and takes the situation of Darfur seriously.  At the same time, it's a resolution that is based on the belief that is, I think, almost universally accepted: that the resolution of Naivasha is
critical to the resolution of Darfur. And it's forward looking, and just as the previous resolutions painted the picture of what would happen if there is no answer in Darfur, so this resolution paints a positive picture of what the parties could accomplish for their country if they bring peace to Sudan.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Ambassador?


QUESTION: Yes. Now, there are very many stakeholders in the African continent who are not here today and whom you've been consulting. For example, the Nigerian President Obasanjo and the South African President Mbeke. They are not here. Would you have wished as the Chairman of the -- as the President of the Security Council -- would you have wished that they would be here?


QUESTION: -- of Nigeria? Yes, Obasanjo, and the President of South Africa, Mbeke. They are not here. Would you have wished as the Security Council sitting on the -- of Africa in Nairobi that the --

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: We issued an invitation to the African Union to be present and the African Union was present. And their designated spokesman was the Permanent Representative from Nigeria to the UN, Ambassador Wali, and he was speaking for the African Union. And all of us are most appreciative of the role that the African Union is playing and very supportive of the African Union and believe that Ambassador Wali was an authoritative spokesman for the African Union.

QUESTION: Putting your Sudanese experience aside, what skills can you reinforce to make sure that the Somalis accept their leaders? Not as they have always reject --

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: Can I just say that the issue of Somalia is going to come up tomorrow and we'll talk about it tomorrow, but this is Sudan's day.

QUESTION: Can you please explain why the Security Council is not passing any sanctions, can you go through it in a little detail?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: Is not doing what?

QUESTION: Is not passing -- is not approving -- any sanctions on Sudan?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: As you know, the Security Council has passed two resolutions relating to the imposition of sanctions and the possibility and the consideration of the possibility of putting in place sanctions; and that possibility continues to be before us. But at the same time there is a possibility of that negative approach. We also wanted to point out there is a more positive side to this as well and the answer to that is going to be up to Sudan itself. How does it want to relate to the rest of the world? In a positive
way or in a negative way, the answer is clearly in Sudan's hands and I believe that by virtue of what we are going to do tomorrow in passing the resolution we are in fact we are increasing the amount of pressure. Because what we have done by this meeting is put Sudan and the problems of Sudan right at the center of the world stage. And what we've done is to create a real choice for Sudan -- which way do you want to go? Do you want to get out of this box that you've been in, or do you want to get further in the box you've been in? In my view, this really increases the pressure and certainly the visibility to try to accomplish peace in that country.

QUESTION: Ambassador Danforth, how has moving these deliberations to Africa affected what has been going on behind closed doors? You could have flown Vice President Taha and John Garang to New York how has coming here changed anything?  And an added question -- you do agree with the Secretary of State that genocide has occurred, or is occurring in Darfur. Is that correct?

AMBASSADOR DANFORTH: First, how is this -- coming to Nairobi -- how has this affected the situation?  This is a very unusual thing for the Security Council to do, and the belief of the members of the Security Council when they decided to come to Nairobi was that this was some risk for the Council, that we were putting the reputation of the Council at stake. And that's a risky situation to be in.

But in the view of the Security Council, Sudan is so important and establishing peace is so important to the stability of Africa that we were willing to take that risk. I think it's been a very positive day, and I think the fact that -- and this isn't just me, I really believe that I am speaking for all members of the Council -- the memorandum of understanding, which will be signed tomorrow, was precipitated by our presence. And that is a big step forward.

As I said earlier, is there ever a final step in the long journey of building a country which stays together? No, there is never a final step, not with any agreement. It's the ongoing process of any country, but it's a major step for Sudan. The position of the United States is clear, and that is the situation in Darfur is genocide, but the position of the Security Council and the resolution that we passed on the subject was to get the Secretary General to create a commission to make that determination, so the commission will do its work. Thank you very much.


Released on November 18, 2004

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