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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) > 2006 > November
Special Briefing
Office of the Spokesman, Acting Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 20, 2006

President's Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew S. Natsios on Sudan-Related Issues

MR. CASEY: Good afternoon again, everybody. Welcome back to round two. As you know, we'd promised for some time to bring our Special Envoy, President's Special Envoy Andrew Natsios down to speak with you. This is, I think, a good moment for him to do so in light of the agreements that have been reached on the subject of peacekeeping forces in Darfur.

I want to take the opportunity and invite Andrew to come up here now. We'll let him make some introductory comments, and then we'll go right on into your questions.

MR. NATSIOS: Thank you very much. I just did a long -- much longer talk at Brookings as some of you I know, George, you were there, and I think Sue, you were there as well. So I'm not going to -- but since everybody wasn't there, I will try to go through the highlights of that and not talk for half an hour and then certainly take questions.

I really do want to focus my attention on the events of the conference in Addis which took place late last week that was led by Kofi Annan and Konare, the Chairman of the African Union. I have to say they did an excellent job. In my view, I think Kofi Annan's leadership was very powerful and moved the process along.

I also want to thank Ambassador Wong, the permanent rep of the Chinese Government to the United Nations. He was there and at critical moments he intervened in a very helpful and useful way as did Amre Moussa, the Director of the General Secretary of the Arab League, and as did Abul Gheit, the Foreign Minister of Egypt. So I think the strategy of bringing other countries in to the process has been useful. And I think they didn't do it in a hostile way, but the tried to explain why certain things were done they way they were and tried to put aside the technical issues on peacekeeping so that they did not interfere with the debate.

Our position now is to support the single process that we've set before us between now and the end of the year that is being led by Kofi Annan. It's not that we agree with the United Nations on everything, but on four critical issues with respect to the peacekeeping operation there is, I think, unanimity of opinion between the United Nations and the United States Government, and I'll go into those in a few minutes.

So I think one of the accomplishments of the effort was a consensus-building among African leaders, among European leaders, United States, the Chinese, the Russians were there, and the Arab states behind a attempt to get a resolution of this and a effective and efficient peacekeeping operation. Ultimately, if we do not protect the people on the ground, this is not going to succeed. And I think Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations, said it well this morning at Brookings where he said that if there is chaos or widespread fighting and there is no political process to resolve that, that no amount of troops in any peacekeeping operation is going to be successful. There has to be some political process to resolve the issues outstanding in Darfur. The DPA certainly is a base for that. But in and of itself, it does not gather enough support to prevent that from happening.

And so I think there is one thing there is general agreement on between the Sudanese Government, the United Nations, the African Union and the rest of us bilaterally is that we should start with a DPA and add protocols onto it on the remaining issues that have not been resolved such as compensation for individual people who are in the camps whose livestock has been looted, whose homes have been destroyed, whose farm equipment is gone, who could not go back to their villages without some kind of package of support. And there are several other issues like that that we think the rebels, the groups -- there are eight now independent rebel groups that command the loyalty of either people in the camps or of military units in the field, some of which have been expecting a cease-fire since May and others have not.

Kofi Annan asked us to not focus on step one, which is the light package of assistance which you may find in the Secretary General July 28th report to the United Nations. There is a second package, a heavy package they call it, which is in paragraphs 48 through 60 of the Secretary General's July 28th report which is a much more robust set of packages. And Lam Akol said at the -- that's the Foreign Minister of Sudan said at his conference that the Sudanese Government in principle accepts the second step, or this package of heavy support, which by the way they had not done until that time. So I saw that as a step forward in and of itself.

They also accepted the notion of UN backstopping in technical areas such as -- and we explained what this was all about. There are systems that have been set up to pay troops on time. If you have a large number of troops that have not been paid for three or four months in any peacekeeping operation or any regular military, you have a morale problem and you eventually will have serious discipline problems. That is one of the problems we're having in Darfur now. We do not have the systems in place within the AU because this is the first time they have run this sort of effort to make this happen. We don't have a steady stream of funding to make sure that there's revenues in the bank to do all of this stuff.

The United States has put in $300 million plus into the AMIS peacekeeping operation. The Europeans have put a very large amount of money as well, in addition to the 1.6 billion we've put into the humanitarian assistance operations of the NGOs and the UN and the ICRC over the last two years. So it is not that we have not committed resources. We have done that.

But the backstopping of the force that would come in from the United Nations to AMIS was explicitly agreed to by the Sudanese delegation.

The Sudanese also have accepted the notion of UN funding of the operation. I'm not sure everybody understands entirely what that means. Not in terms of the source of the revenue -- it would clearly be the UN regular peacekeeping operation budget -- but the processes that would be needed to get the UN to agree to what is a hybrid. And a hybrid means the UN and the AU would work together. The SOSG, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN, and the senior political appointee of the African Union in Sudan would be a single position jointly appointed by both the AU and the UN. Having a joint appointment would mean we would not have a situation where we had two senior officials, one Jan Pronk and another Kingibe, Ambassador Kingibe from Nigeria, who was the senior rep. Having one person with a dual appointment we think makes sense. And the proposal in the package as well is that the general force commander of this new force, this hybrid force, would also be a joint appointment in terms of the original appointment.

And finally, the document says that the command-and-control structure, which is critically important, would be through the United Nations. It would be to DPKO in New York.

Ultimately though, what counts is whether this is effective or not. And so in the draft there is a long statement about, one, a cease-fire. We have a cease-fire now that's not being -- it's been more violated than it has implemented by the parties. We need an effective cease-fire that really works and a mechanism for monitoring that. The Sudanese Government did move off, purge from the committee, all of the people -- groups that did not sign the May DPA agreement. We need to have those people -- all those groups added back in. You can't have an effective cease-fire monitoring commission which, by the way, was in the N'Djamena Accords of 2004. So it already exists. It's been approved by everybody. Everybody signed the accords in N'Djamena in 2004. And they are still in effect according to the DPA. We need that commission stood up again and all of the eight independent groups added back in.

We also need a process which the document that was produced at Addis says should be managed by the UN and the AU. There are like six different initiatives now to get a supplemental process for adding these protocols to the Darfur Peace Agreement that I mentioned earlier. We can't have six processes. That is confusing the whole thing. It will ensure we never have a final definitive set of protocols.

The reason we had success in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement process between the North and the South was because we had a single process. Once we had that and we all agreed how the process would work and who was involved in it, it made the thing work much more rapidly and much more successfully and it was much more productive in terms of these sessions. So we've now agreed the UN and AU will sponsor the follow-on meetings on the political processes with respect to the DPA.

And finally, there is a Darfur-to-Darfur dialogue and the question of reconstruction and the resettlement voluntary, voluntary resettlement and repatriation of refugees and internally displaced people, it's also in the document.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol and his delegation in principle agreed to this document. I mean, there were three issues that were outstanding: the number of troops; the joint appointment of these two people, the SRSG, the Special Representative to the Secretary General and the AU and the force commander remained outstanding, that they said they would take back and consult with their government. We urge the Sudanese Government to adopt the package that was a consensus document of the international community.

And I might conclude, by simply repeating the time limits that we are under. The AU, the African Union force mandate ends on January 1st. There is no other force after that. Two, the Secretary General is leaving office January 1st. And three, a new Congress takes power -- I mean, takes office in the third week of January, but January 1st effectively the Democrats will be in control of the Congress. And I really think that if we want to get this resolved, January 1st of this year needs to be the deadline. And it's not an arbitrary date. It's based on elections in the United States, which were a major actor in this. It is the fact that there's a new Secretary General, and the fact that the AU mandate runs out. We need to put a time limit on where this is going.

So that's where we are. And I might add that the major provisions of 1706 are in the Addis agreement as far as we're concerned. Now, is it the same document? No, it's not the same document. But a much larger group of -- body of international organizations has now participated in producing, the writing and drafting the Addis agreement. It is a broader consensus-building document. The Sudanese had a very large delegation, much larger than our delegation from the United States, at this meeting. They participated in this for ten hours. It went from three in the afternoon 'til one in the morning. And we hope that this -- these steps taken, which are not now conclusive, there's no big breakthrough but there were steps forward. We want each day now -- between now and the end of the year for those steps forward in moving us along to resolution that will allow us to have an effective and efficient operation. Are there any questions?


QUESTION: Isn't the fact that the Sudanese have yet to agree on the dispatch of a substantial number of UN peacekeepers a rather significant hurdle?

MR. NATSIOS: Well, that's what this is -- that's what the whole thing is about, Charlie.

QUESTION: I mean, you can't do any victory laps.

MR. NATSIOS: I'm not -- I don't -- I've learned that in this new world we don't have victory laps, George. I could measure it when I was in AID and we were running humanitarian relief operations. If I saw the mortality rates dropping, I said we won. There are no quantitative measurements at the State Department I'm learning with respect to international diplomacy, never has. That's not the way it works. It's more subtle and nuanced. I'm having to learn how to do that. (Laughter.) It's not easy to do either. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It seems to me that the recent statement suggests that they continue to be opposed to the --

MR. NATSIOS: George, I mentioned several things that they had not agreed to before Addis that they've agreed to now. They've made some statements since Addis, some of them not too helpful, some of them helpful which agree to other things which they had not agreed to in Addis. We are not -- knowing the Sudanese Government, I worked with them, or against them for 17 years now, I know how they operate. You frequently will take two steps forward and a step back and it's just the nature of how -- what their strategies are and I understand their strategies. Our goal here is to get the Sudanese Government to negotiate an agreement that they will then carry out with the United Nations that will result in a force, a hybrid force, going to Darfur.

I think it's in their interest to do it and I said that repeatedly in Addis. This is not something that we're imposing on them because there's some other agenda at work, some of which are utterly ridiculous in my view, rumors that are around as to what are our intentions as government. We have a humanitarian and human rights agenda in Darfur and that's it. There is no other agenda for the United States Government, publicly, privately, in any of the meetings I've been in. We want this resolved because the human cost of this has been so horrific. The trauma to the province has been terrible. It's the worst conflict in the history of the province. And the people were destitute and impoverished to begin with. This is the third war now in 20 years. I went to the first war in 1991. It was just ending the first (inaudible) Arab war. It started even before this government was in power. And then there was a second war in '96 to '98. Now this is the third war, by far the worst. We're hoping it will be the last. We don't want a patchwork conclusion to this that will simply result in postponing bloodshed in two or three more years.


QUESTION: It's obvious that there are suspicions on both sides. There was a fellow from the Sudanese Embassy who was quite forthright in the suspicions that he had. Do you think that you're going to be able to overcome these suspicions to an extent that you'll have the -- that you'll be able to get a hybrid force in there that will be able to do its job?

MR. NATSIOS: I hope so. And but let me just add this. I have not talked with many of you for the last three months deliberately because speaking publicly actually limits my ability to do that. They take one or two words that you say and they will have -- they will extrapolate meanings that you did not intend when you say it through the media. So you cannot conduct diplomacy effectively in the media. I'm doing this now because we've had the Addis agreement, it's in writing, something was agreed to and I wanted to explain that publicly. But I'm finding that personal contact with them over time helps at least to, by repeating things over and over again, get the message of what really counts.

I did send the message at Brookings today but also privately and in my trip to Khartoum that there is an issue that we're not negotiating on, and that's the atrocity issue. Human rights abuses are not negotiable. There's no compromise on that. Attacking noncombatants, women and children, deliberately and killing them is outrageous. It's not acceptable. Sudanese officials I've talked to said that is not our policy. And I said, well, it's what's happening.

So the purpose of all this is to prevent that from happening in the future and to create a structure of peace that will in fact protect the people over the long term. Is this easy? No. This is a very difficult negotiation. It's a very difficult situation.

QUESTION: So at what point are you going to deal with all of the atrocities that have been committed?

MR. NATSIOS: We are dealing with them now, but privately.

QUESTION: But what --

MR. NATSIOS: And there's a point -- January 1st is either we see a change or we go to Plan B. And I'm not -- I think making threats is not a wise thing to do. I'm hoping that the forces of moderation in Sudan, including the southerners, I might add, who are urging restraint -- they are part of the Government of Sudan -- on these issues, we understand if a military force is attacked they have to defend themselves, but shooting children is not part --

QUESTION: I'm sorry, can I just follow up on what is -- I mean, you say Plan B so you're -- are you laying down a January 1 deadline and then after that you'll bring out the big sticks? Because at the moment these -- the carrots are that you're not using sticks.

MR. NATSIOS: I'm not going to go into that.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a bit more? Because that's a bit open-ended. I mean --

MR. NATSIOS: It is open-ended. I'm going to leave it at that.

QUESTION: Our imaginations could run wild.

MR. NATSIOS: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Our imagination can run wild. What is Plan B?

MR. NATSIOS: Plan B is a different approach to this.


QUESTION: Secretary Rice on September 27th has called Sudanese Government to immediately and unconditionally accept a UN peacekeeping force into Darfur. Why did you change your position?

MR. NATSIOS: Well, we are still urging them to accept the UN force and under the principles within 1706. 1706 has now become, because of the number, a red line for everybody. We won't go over it because we still support it and the Sudanese will never support it. So the strategy has been to look in what is actually in the resolution. And all of the major elements of 1706 that we think are important to create an efficient and effective force in Sudan is in the Addis agreement, and more actually.

I might also add there are a lot of things in 1706 that are in the Darfur Peace Agreement which the Sudanese Government says they support, and I have no doubt that they do -- they signed it. But there's a lot of coincidence between the Darfur Peace Agreement and 1706.


QUESTION: Just to go back to the whole atrocities issue, I mean, you've been focusing in your remarks today and the diplomacy has been focused on getting this peacekeeping force in. But as you know, you know, while it's a Chapter 7 mandate and they may have to defend themselves, I mean, there needs to be some kind of peace to keep, and the Janjaweed are still -- I mean, even though the government has signed the peace agreement, the Janjaweed are still running around, there's still a lot of violence and, I mean, it doesn't seem as if anyway there's any kind of political process that is putting an end to this in order for these --

MR. NATSIOS: There are two routes out of this. One route is the route that is laid out in several documents. Part of it's the DPA, part of it is what I think are the provisions of 1706 and our government does, and also what's in the Addis agreement that was a consensus document. That is a constructive way to approach in terms of process and in terms of goals what needs to be done to resolve the crisis in Darfur. I think it's in the interest of the Sudanese Government to take the constructive role. They'll have a lot of support if they choose that.

We don't know if they've made a decision to try a military solution. There are some people who argue since August that they have. I don't know whether that is -- I have no definitive information as to whether or not they have. We are watching --

QUESTION: Military action against the Janjaweed or against the Darfurians?

MR. NATSIOS: Well, against the rebel groups. They're not against the Janjaweed. They're allies with the Janjaweed.

QUESTION: No, I know. I mean, but what I'm saying is, I mean, you've been focusing on, like you've been calling on your actions to the government to let this force in. But that's just to protect the people from the Janjaweed that are running around. I mean, what --

MR. NATSIOS: Well, you know, it's not quite true. Okay? The problem with all the reporting -- a lot of the reporting -- and the interest groups as well is some of the rebel groups have committed massacres, and because there are eight groups now and some of them are tribally based and some of the tribes hate each other and they have a long history of enmity, they are committing violence against each other. So it is not accurate to say that if we simply deal with the Arab militia problem that everything is going to go away. It's not going to go away. I could go through a whole list of them. I'm not going to do that now. The fact of the matter is it is beyond just that. But that is a major problem and it has to be dealt with and we want a way out.

QUESTION: But I mean, beyond -- I'm sorry, just to finish up. But beyond getting the government to allow this force in, I mean, presumably there are other things that you're looking for the government to do, if you can lay them out.

MR. NATSIOS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Presumably, just beyond allowing this UN force to come in, I mean, the support for particular rebels -- I mean, the government is supporting rebels groups that have signed the agreement now.

MR. NATSIOS: Yes, they are supporting --

QUESTION: Minni Minawi's group, for instance.

MR. NATSIOS: That is correct.

QUESTION: So I mean, presumably, just beyond allowing this force into Darfur, there are other things that you're looking for the government to do.

MR. NATSIOS: Yes, but that is in the DPA. The DPA is simply not an a peacekeeping operation. It's also on a set of political processes and processes with respect to cease-fire. How do you get the commanders, for example, to sit down and talk with the government if there's a major battle going on? And there is right now. So you have to have a cease-fire that's real.


QUESTION: I mean, since the DPA was signed, the situation has gotten worse. In fact, it seems to have exacerbated some of the tensions among those eight rebels groups that you talked about. Was it a mistake at the time to push forward with the DPA so strongly? I mean, was there another way here that would not have exacerbated this problem?

MR. NATSIOS: I don't know what the other way is. In fact, it's very interesting if you read the document. I didn't interfere with -- I put several critical points in the document that were important to the United States, but there was criticism in the document -- read it, it's a public document -- on the DPA. And then on the other side, even though they criticize the DPA, then they say the only basis for further negotiations is the DPA in the same document. So I think there's an understanding that something very useful was done but it wasn't completed, and we need to complete it now. We need to get the other rebel groups, some of which have indicated to us that they are willing, if these protocols are added, to sign this.

I met with some of the rebel leaders in Paris on Saturday.

QUESTION: These protocols, are they acceptable to Sudanese Government?

MR. NATSIOS: I know I've raised some of them. I asked them, for example, in the camps what is infuriating people more than anything else -- there are many things infuriating people -- but one major issue is the compensation issue. In the traditions of Darfur, in fact much of North Africa -- not just -- other areas of the developing world, when a crime takes place, they don't have a traditional trial and they put someone in jail. There are no jails and there are no regular judicial system. There's a traditional system where a sheikh or a chief sits down, makes a judgment and the sheikhs will negotiate with each other and then blood money is paid. Money is paid in many traditions as a way of dealing with some violence that's taken place. And many of the people in the camp say $30 million doesn't do it, doesn't deal with what we went through or is going to allow us to, you know, restock our animals and build our farms back.

The Sudanese Government has made several concessions on that since May. The most recent one was last week. They didn't announce it publicly, and I don't want to start using figures, but they have raised the amount, and I believe that they are sincere when they say that. I think they are willing to raise that amount. I think they are willing to deal with some of the operational issues as to how the disarmament of heavy weaponry is to take place. I think that's one of the reasons the UN-AU hybrid force is so important is to do that disarmament of heavy weaponry which (inaudible).


QUESTION: Are you planning to visit Sudan anytime? And does this agreement in part improve facilitate the chances for President al-Bashir to meet with you next time?

MR. NATSIOS: I expect the next time I go to Sudan I will meet with President Bashir first. Secondly, I expect to travel to Sudan soon. I don't want to give you a date --

QUESTION: Tomorrow?

MR. NATSIOS: No, not tomorrow. I have to rest first. We have Thanksgiving. Okay.


QUESTION: Andrew, I know you have some feelings about the stories that have been written about the intelligence issue.

MR. NATSIOS: You were there this morning?

QUESTION: I was a witness to it by video, certain technological loops.

MR. NATSIOS: I see. Okay.

QUESTION: -- and even though it's asking you in a way to repeat some of it, would you address the issue that has been raised?

MR. NATSIOS: I've got to learn nuance, Charlie, you know.


MR. NATSIOS: I have seen no evidence that what we do in Darfur is being driven in any way by the cooperation between the intelligence community of the United States Government and intelligence community within the U.S. in terms of the GOS. I've asked about it, I've looked at it. I've waited for someone to say something in a meeting. But I brought up a lot of very aggressive measures in interagency meetings, which I am not going to describe to you because they're classified, as to what our policy is and how will we proceed. And if there is this hidden agenda going on, it would have to have come out because someone would have said, stop it, because of this other -- these other relationship and that did not happen and the decisions were made. So I simply think it is part of the Beltway chatter about motives of the Administration or trying to explain why what's happened in Darfur -- the reason what happened in Darfur happened the way it did, from my perspective is that we don't have all of the instruments of influence we think we have. And as I study many of them carefully, we don't have as much leverage as we'd like to have. There are some things that we have done. We did them in 1998.

One of the reasons that this Bashir would not see me the day I arrived was because it was the day the President signed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act and signed the Executive Order implementing it and it had new sanctions in it. And they are very upset. They canceled all visas for Americans. The NGOs aren't getting visas now and it's still in effect. So I know there are things that we've done that I've upset the Sudanese Government. And again, the President did it and this intelligence thing did not factor into this. I've been at all the meetings on Sudan. So I really think we should try to deal with reality. Now I think some of the think tanks have been very thoughtful about things they've written and very helpful and very realistic. I mean, we need to understand what the realities are, how we're going to change the situation.

My ultimate goal, Charlie, is -- having been where I was for most of my career is what's going to happen to people in the camps. It's nice to have all this rhetoric and all these position papers. But if people stay in those camps forever, I mean, it is damaging to their communities and to their culture to be in displaced camps and refugee camps. They need to be back in their villages. And the only way to do that is to develop a process where there's some kind of effort to reach a consensus so that we can implement an agreement to get these people back securely and safely and then to do a development and reconstruction plan, so that people will be able to support themselves over the longer term.

MR. CASEY: Andrew, why don't we just go down to Sue and David here.

MR. NATSIOS: Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: So, okay. Go on.

QUESTION: I was going to back to the atrocities and plan B. There's no (inaudible) there's no offer of immunity involved anywhere in this for potential crimes against humanity?

MR. NATSIOS: No, it's not my -- I'm not getting involved in any kind of immunity. I don't know if we have any power to do that and I haven't raised it and we're not dealing with it.

QUESTION: And there's not discussion on this issue?


QUESTION: So just to get back to the January 1 sort of deadline, is this something that the UN, the EU and others also agreed and the Arab League, are you all looking to January 1 as the deadline for them to agree to the hybrid force in particular or to --

MR. NATSIOS: No, no, the whole package.

QUESTION: The whole package.

MR. NATSIOS: Whole package.

QUESTION: And then secondly, the --

MR. NATSIOS: Understanding that a lot of it's already been agreed to and isn't really in dispute. Some of the things in the package the Sudanese Government wanted in the package like the reconstruction program. They don't want all these people in these camps either for perhaps different receipts that we don't want them in the camps. But there are things in the package which they are favorable to.

QUESTION: Is there a deadline for deployment?

MR. NATSIOS: Oh, no. Deployment, 10,000 troops

QUESTION: To get to start --

MR. NATSIOS: To get the process started, it's going to take months to do it. You don't move -- just think of this now, Port Sudan to El Geneina, the capital of Western Darfur, is a 1,000 miles. Djibouti, where there's an American military base, to El Geneina is 1500 miles and El Geneina to the Mediterranean coast is 1500 miles. This is one of the most remote locations logistically in the world. So, it's not easy to get to Darfur.

QUESTION: How long do you think it will take, because you've mentioned in a comment to the UN's peacekeeping guy this morning that, you know, if you need any help working out your peacekeeping plans, you know, we'd be happy to help you.

MR. NATSIOS: Sue, don't put it in that tone. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I just --

MR. NATSIOS: I mean, I was being constructive --

QUESTION: -- wondered. I just wondered --

MR. NATSIOS: -- and offered help.

QUESTION: I just wondered on that constructive offer of help, does that imply that maybe they're not moving possibly as fast as you would like them to?

MR. NATSIOS: No, I think Jean-Marie Guehenno is moving as rapidly as he can. Kofi Annan knows he's leaving office and he is committed to getting this done. It's very -- I've talked with him repeatedly over the last few weeks as I have Guehenno, as I have Mark Malloch Brown, daily basis in some cases last week. It's very clear they want to have this resolved before they leave.

MR. CASEY: All right. Elise, real last question.

MR. NATSIOS: Yes, Elise, go ahead.

QUESTION: When you talk about a political processs, are you prepared to be a mediator in a --

MR. NATSIOS: A mediator.

QUESTION: -- in a future political process, bringing more rebel groups in along the lines of what Deputy --

MR. NATSIOS: We want the mediator to be the UN and the AU. We will help -- I will go -- as I saw, I saw the rebel -- one of the rebel leaders in Paris and had a long conversation with he and his people. I will continue to do that. But the message I had to them is the UN and the AU are in charge of this, and I'm helping them. Kofi will call and say, Andrew, would you call this person. And that's what I will do. President Bush has already asked me to do some things and so has Dr. Rice; I will do them.

QUESTION: There has been -- you talked about a plan B in terms of --

MR. NATSIOS: Let's not talk about the plan B.

QUESTION: Well, no, no, no, that the Sudanese Government does not do what you're looking to do. There's also been --

MR. NATSIOS: If we find out that there's not been a reciprocal effort on our part -- on their part to respond to our efforts at a constructive engagement with them, then we have to find some other way of dealing with them.

QUESTION: But are you prepared to offer incentives to the government if they're willing to --

MR. NATSIOS: At this point, I have not offered any incentives publicly or privately to the Sudanese Government. I've told them that it's very difficult in the atmosphere of Washington with the atrocities going on right now. I mean, there have been three incidents in the last three weeks that are different than what's gone on 2005 and the beginning of 2006, not military battles but attacks against soft civilian targets where a lot of noncombatants were killed deliberately. That is for us not a negotiable question. And if that continues then there's going to be a reassessment of our policies. We will not negotiate that.

MR. CASEY: Thanks, everybody. Thank you.

Released on November 20, 2006

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