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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > November
Press Statement
Office of the Spokesman
Nairobi, Kenya
November 8, 2005


Press Briefing by Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I just had a brief set of opening comments then weíll try to take a few of your questions, but I have a meeting with President Kibaki that also to head to.

Deputy Secretary Zoellick answering questions during a press briefing in Nairobi, Kenya November 8, 2005.First I want to thank all the different parties who joined us today and Kenya for its always warm hospitality. We had today representatives of the SLM SLA, African Union, UN, European Union, Norway, UK, Netherlands, France, and Canada. All these parties came together because we all believed that the people of Darfur have suffered a terrible tragedy and we need to try to bring peace and a prospect of development. The African Union which was here today has done and continues to do very important work. Ambassador Salim, the former Prime Minister of Tanzania, was here, and he has been the chief mediator of the negotiations for peace in Abuja. But we also have the contributions of a number of African countries, with the African mission in Sudan, the AMIS mission, which as weíve seen means that Africans are willing to put their lives on the line to try to protect other Africans.

A message that Iíve conveyed today is that the problems of Darfur will not be solved by more violence. We need to conclude a peace negotiation within the framework of the CPA. To regain the momentum on this part of the challenges of Sudan, we need three things. First, respect for the ceasefire, and cooperation with the AMIS mission, including trying to protect humanitarian workers who also put their lives on the line in very difficult circumstances to help the people of Sudan. Second, the SLM needs to return to the next round of Abuja negotiations that will start later this month with a common approach. And third, the Government of National Unity needs to bring together the National Congress Party as well as the SPLM members so that they also present a common approach to the negotiations in Abuja. Now I was especially appreciative that the SLM and SLA members came to explain their perspective, how they will try to work, is one, as I and the other international partners made clear, it is not our role to dictate how the SLM unifies, or who should be its leaders. But we have asked them to make clear that the members who will be willing to work together in the Abuja negotiations, that theyíre committed to the Abuja peace negotiation process, that they will respect the ceasefire, work with the Amis (sic) mission, and protect humanitarian workers. And Iíll just mention that all of the international partners from Africa, North America, Europe, all reinforce and convey this similar message. So, my concluding point with the SLM was that we want to help them, but to help them they need to help us be able to deal with a unified movement. Okay, happy to take your questions. Yes?

QUESTION: [Inaudible] with the renewal of sanctions of the U.S. sanctions, also with this announcement [inaudible] coincided with the visit of Salva Kiir to the U.S., donít you think this may affect the building trust between the north and the south, thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Iím not sure if I understood all elements of the question, but there were no sanctions that were put in place when Salva Kiir visited Washington, but to go to your core point, we are trying to help stand up the government of southern Sudan. Itís our view that a strong government of southern Sudan can contribute to a strong and unified Sudan. Our AID mission is already building roads, schools, helping with telecommunications systems, health systems, also trying to help in terms of the restructuring of the security forces. So we are able to do that with our current aid. Now there are some things that the sanctions limit our ability to do that may be of further help to the government of southern Sudan. I discussed some of those with Salva Kiir and I will have a chance to discuss more of those with his colleagues when Iím in Juba in a couple of days. But weíre committed in what Iíll be emphasizing tomorrow and when Iím in Juba is the need to focus on the implementation of the comprehensive peace accord, the government has now agreed to set up the assessment and evaluation commission, and we need to get those members in place, itíll be chaired by Tom Vraalsen of Norway who would have been here except for a family illness conflict. And we will have an American representative, there will be a Kenyan representative, General Sumbeiywo who played a key role in the CPA negotiations. And we need to get the other parties stood up so that can play its role, same with the National Petroleum Commission, boundary commissions, others. So my message on the north-south front is analogous to my message here, which is that we need to regain momentum and to gain momentum we have to look to the parties to take steps together in the case of the CPA to implement their peace accord; in the case of Darfur to complete their peace accord. Yes?

QUESTION: Caroline Drees from Reuters. I just wanted to ask on the question of SLM unity. Was there any progress today towards greater unity among the factions, and do you have any information on who will lead the SLM delegation to the Abuja talks?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, since the day started with the fact that I had a hard time getting them in the room together, I think there was some progress by getting them to listen to my combined [inaudible] message and to listen to those of our international partners. My assessment, but I will quickly say that this is a very fluid situation, is that the process of SLM coherence is proceeding, there was a conference that took place thatís represented a number of parties but not all the parties, and so I think all of us will know the answer to your question by the time the Abuja negotiations begin again. And thatís one reason why Iím here now because I wanted the different elements of the SLM to be able to hear directly from me, from the African Union, from the European Union, Norwegians, Canadians, and others, because one does run a risk in these situations, where people are out in the field, that understandably theyíre dealing with tremendous trials in a very difficult area, and they can become a little detached from the views of others who want to help them. And one of my messages was that the one of the most important assets of the SLM is the support of countries around the world. But to maintain that support, they have to respect the ceasefire, they canít follow a path of violence. And theyíre going to have to come up with a common negotiating position. Now if one talks to Salim Salim, the mediator, there are different ways they can do that. But the last round it was very clear that they werenít coming together. And so I hope that the message Iíve delivered is clear and complemented by others and as I told you, I, what I mentioned at the very end were the points that I hope they make clear by the time they come back to Abuja. Your second question is who will lead the delegation, I donít know, theyíre going to have to determine that. Yes?

QUESTION: [Translated from Arabic] from Al Jazeera. He has two questions. One, is the presence of the presentation from the U.S., United States of America, here today sending a special message to the government of Khartoum, and the second question is was your delay to come to the conference as a result of the disunity and differences among the SLM?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: As for your first question, I will be in Khartoum tomorrow and I will be meeting members of the cabinet SPLM, and National Congress Party, do you need him to translate, should I keep going? Okay. And I will also have a chance to meet President Bashir and Vice President Taha and so I will be conveying to them my message about the important role that they need to play in the Darfur peace process as well as in the implementation of the CPA. And then I will also be going to Darfur later, as the next stop, where Iíll be trying to see some of the facts on the ground, and talk to the African Union forces, and see some of the areas that have been recent scenes of violence. Then Iíll be in Juba later, talking to the government of southern Sudan.

As for your second question, the way that we have this organized, was that I first had a chance to meet with some of the key African Union players to get their assessment and to share views which I say are very closely aligned. Then with the other international partners, and again a close alignment. Then I met with the SLM with its different elements, then we brought in the international partners for a rather large meeting where the SLM again explained their view of the situation and the international partners outlined what they thought the SLM needed to do before the next round of the Abuja negotiations. And we were all sending a common message to them which going back to your question is something that weíre trying to do over this critical week period. I wanted to follow up with some of the SLM members because I wanted to make sure that as they convey talk to Mini Menawi who they were talking to on the phone, who wasnít able to come, that they understood what I think needs to move forward over the next couple of weeks. So it was in a sense a smaller quick meeting to convey that. Yes?

QUESTION: My name is Derek Segast (sic) from [inaudible] News. I have two questions. One is that some observers that have been following the peace process in Darfur mentioned that this unity [inaudible] is a big problem but that the real issue is that the CPA sort of in a iron straight jacket that gives too little space for political representation of northern groups and that the rebels are not likely to agree to any kind of peace agreement as long as they donít get any more representation. And the second question is with regard to I think one of your messages youíre conveying to the different parties is your support for AU but my understanding is that the U.S. government just cut funding to the AU. How do you reconcile this?

Zoellick. On the first one, none of the SLM parties mentioned that point, and so I think when I refer to the CPA framework, I refer to a negotiation that overcomes a long history of dominance of the periphery by Khartoum. And its key elements are political power sharing prior to elections, wealth and economic sharing and also security situation. And those are spelled out in what you probably know is agonizing detail in the CPA. And thereís a process set up to build the confidence and work that. So I have not encountered anyone who believes that that general framework isnít a similar framework that could be used to negotiate the process. So I just havenít encountered the objection that you noted.

On the second one, I would certainly encourage the Members of Congress who feel very strongly about their support for the tragedy in Darfur to back their words with resources. And, but I think having looked at the most recent appropriations bill that we will probably have the freedom to move around accounts to continue to support the AMIS mission. The language that many people have referred to was one specific authority and as I explained to some of the co-sponsors of the bill it actually would have come in a very restrictive form. So I, the President and the United States is committed to try and support this process, I believe we will have the flexibility to continue to try to do so, but I would certainly welcome the ongoing help of Members of Congress who write letters to back it with resources.

2005/1023


Released on November 8, 2005

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