Press Availability in ChadJohn D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
April 17, 2007
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Thank you. I am honored to be here on my first trip to Chad and only my second trip abroad since becoming Deputy Secretary of State two months ago. I arrived here yesterday from Sudan, where I had a series of meetings in Khartoum with President Bashir and several of his top advisors. I also had an opportunity to visit Juba and Darfur, where I reviewed humanitarian and peacekeeping issues with internally displaced persons as well as United Nations, African Union, and Sudanese officials. I leave for Libya shortly and will head from there to Mauritania before returning to Washington.
While in N’djamena I met with President Deby, Foreign Minister Allam-mi, and will be meeting with members of Chadian civil society. I also met with Sudanese non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement. In addition, I traveled to Abache and Koukou Anganara, where I visited refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) camps in eastern Chad. There I saw first-hand how the crisis in Darfur has affected innocent Chadian and Sudanese civilians along Chad’s eastern border with Sudan.
The principal purpose of my visit is to strengthen our bilateral relationship and to express appreciation to the Government of Chad, community leaders, and humanitarian agencies for their assistance to the Darfur refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad. I also want to express my government’s deepest condolences for the Chadian civilians killed, wounded, and displaced by attacks from the Janjaweed militias.
Darfur is a subject of intense interest on the part of the American people and our government. There is widespread agreement that the crisis in Darfur has three main elements: humanitarian, security, and political. All of these elements deserve the immediate attention of the Sudanese Government and international community. The United States is convinced that the violence in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic is increasingly linked, that instability in each of the three states contributes directly to instability in the others, and that we need to move forward on all fronts to improve security and to protect civilians.
On the humanitarian front, the United States is committed to providing support to the victims of this instability. The United States is the single largest donor to both Sudan and eastern Chad, where we provide basic assistance and emergency food aid to refugees and displaced Chadians. It is critical that these civilians have full access to humanitarian aid.
With respect to the security situation, our focus is on supporting ongoing African Union and United Nations efforts to contribute to peace and stability. We fully support the deployment of two international peacekeeping forces in the region: the first is a hybrid United Nation – African Union force for Darfur, with a single, unified chain-of-command that conforms to UN standards and practices; the second is a United Nations peacekeeping force for eastern Chad and the northeastern Central African Republic. As proposed by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the force in Chad would focus on protecting civilians (particularly refugees and IDPs) and deterring cross-border attacks. These robust international forces are required to improve the security of affected populations, and are the subject of continued bilateral discussions between Chad and the United States.
Turning to the political situation, the United States urges the governments of Chad and Sudan to continue their dialogue and to cease supporting any armed elements, be they rebels or ethnic militias that seek to destabilize their neighbor. The Government of Sudan must cease its support for the Janjaweed, and all non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement must stop their attacks, put down their arms, and come to the negotiating table.
The United States is committed to working with the government and people of Chad to promote regional peace and prosperity. We also encourage efforts to promote a peaceful and democratic future within Chad. We value our bilateral relationship a great deal and seek ways to strengthen and deepen our cooperation. I hope that our collaboration with respect to the Darfur crisis can translate into positive developments in the economic and security relationships between our respective counties.
Thank you very much, and I am pleased to answer a few questions.
QUESTION: You’ve just said Sudan has accepted the deployment of 3000 troops, does that meet your definition of a robust hybrid force?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Definitely not, but if I can elaborate, that in all three areas, humanitarian, security and political, the government of Sudan is not doing what it could for the proper implementation of the peace agreement. This has made it difficult for the humanitarian agencies to operate in Darfur. In the area of security they have resisted the deployment of peacekeeping forces to their country. As you mentioned, we believe it is urgent that additional peacekeepers be sent, increasing the number from some 5,000 now to some 17,000 to 20,000. That is the recommendation that has been made both by the United Nations and the African Union, and we also believe that they must, as I mentioned in the opening statement, immediately cease providing financial and material support to Janjaweed militias, which we know could not continue their activities without direct support from the Sudanese government. On the political front, the government of Sudan needs to do much more to implement the various obligations that they undertook in the political chapters of the Darfur peace agreement.
QUESTION: Sudan has finally decided to accept the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces. In your discussion with President Deby, did he also change his position by accepting the deployment of blue helmets? Is your visit to Libya aimed at persuading Gaddafi to accept the presence of UN forces at its border, since Gaddafi seems to play some role in the Darfur crisis?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: As I said, there are many elements. You mentioned the statement by Sudan that it would accept the second phase of the deployment of the peace keepers and this is certainly an important statement. But because of past experience, with the government of Sudan, our view is that we must wait and see if they would really carry out what they have agreed to, and we also believe that they must move promptly toward acceptance of the third phase of this deployment which could be between 17,000 and 20,000. So I think the message with respect to the government of Sudan is that action speaks louder than words.
On the subject of a U.N. force for eastern Chad, what I would say is that this is a subject we raised with the government of Chad both publicly and privately. But I would point out that there has not yet been a formal decision by the United Nations Security Council with respect to such forces. This is a subject that has been so far at an informal discussion between us and other friends of Chad together with the government of Chad. It is also a subject of an informal discussion within the United Nation Security Council.
QUESTION: What are the guarantees that the Sudanese will comply with what it has just accepted, what are the countries that will contribute with the troops?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: There are no guaranties, but I visited Darfur and I met with the African Union commander Generals, and they said to me that they have only five thousands troops and that is not enough to ensure security in an area as large as Darfur. So along with the African Union as well as the United Nations, we believe the size of the peacekeeping force needs to be raised from 5,000 to somewhere between 17, 000 to 20,000 troops. Frankly, I think that the more forces are present, the better likelihood of assuring security.
QUESTION: What is the link between your visit to Mauritania and the situation in Darfur crisis?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I am visiting Mauritania to lead the United States delegation attending the inauguration ceremony of the newly-elected President of Mauritania. And to return to a previous question, yes, the purpose of my trip to Libya is to discuss the situation in Darfur and raise the question of cooperation with the leadership of Libya in ensuring the proper implementation of the Darfur peace agreement.
Released on April 18, 2007