Press Briefing at Oslo Donors' Conference on SudanRobert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
April 12, 2005
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I think that this meeting that Norway has hosted has come at a completely important time and as I said in some earlier remarks to some of the Norwegian journalists after I met Foreign Minister Petersen earlier today, I can’t help but be struck by the nature of the Norwegian community that is part of its celebration of a centennial year of modern independence, that it’s devoted so much time, energy and efforts to helping other people around the world. Not only here but Sri Lanka, Mid-East and other locations.
I welcomed the opportunity before I spoke, to have a chance to catch up a little bit with Minister Frafjord Johnson. I had met her in Washington and know that she’s devoted a great deal of time and energy to this process, knows it very well and so she and I had a chance to compare notes.
As I said, I met Minister Petersen and I’ll be meeting Prime Minister Bondevik right after this session.
The objective of the United States in this process has been trying to do what we can to encourage a peaceful reconciliation of all parties in Sudan. And in the process of doing so try to create an opportunity for a new start to the country.
So, after my remarks, which I believe you were able to hear me present, I had a chance to meet with the E.U. Presidency Country, Development Minister Schultz of Luxembourg and I think the United States and the E.U. have a very parallel, even set of common vision on how to try to promote this process, so I was pleased to have a chance to discuss with him.
Then U.N. Secretary General Special Representative Jan Pronk of the Netherlands and I had a chance to talk, he was just in Sudan recently, and we compared our perspectives on both the North/South and also the situation in Darfur and other issues in the country and we agreed to follow up after I’m done with this week’s visits; at the end of the week I’ll be also visiting Sudan myself.
And then I was fortunate to have a chance to meet Foreign Minister Zuma of South Africa, and her role with the African Union; I was able to get a better sense of some of the African Union’s planning, for both supporting the peace mediation process but also the important presence of the A.U. Mission forces in Darfur. We talked about ways various countries and NATO and the European Union might be able to provide support on that.
And then I had a chance to meet both the First Vice President Taha and Dr. Garang where we talked about North/South implementation and also the situation in Darfur.
A couple of, I guess key take-aways for me, One, I think this conference has been successful in pressing forward on the financial support, but I think all parties have also recognized they need to make sure that pledges of funds get translated into real financial support to make the CPA work and also to help deal with the problems in Darfur.
I was pleased that the United States took a step up with a very large contribution of our current money and the money we are trying to get from the Congress, for a total of about 1.7 billion dollars, and that doesn’t even include some of the funds that we we’d be seeking elsewhere or over the three-year period of the implementation of the CPA.
Second, I think that the pledge of financial support will be important in trying to press the parties along for the implementation of the North/South accord.
Everyone I spoke to had a strong sense of the need to move forward with the constitutional processes to try to set up the national unity government by July as was originally envisaged and if we do that, I think that could also help us set the context for dealing with the issues in Darfur.
And that was the third point, I think there was a definite message coming out of meetings I’ve had in the conference for the need to try, as I think the phrase that Kofi Annan used, and I used, was to make sure that the shadow of Darfur doesn’t darken the prospects for the North/South accord and for all of Sudan. And this is obviously an issue of both security for humanitarian forces, but as I tried to emphasize, it has to be combined with creating the context for a political reconciliation.
And some of my colleagues will be meeting tomorrow here with some of the individuals from groups that have been in conflict with the government in Darfur trying to emphasize the need to move forward a peaceful reconciliation process. So, later this week I will be moving on to Khartoum where I will have a chance to have some more in depth meetings with the government of Sudan but also the African Union Representatives, some of the tribal leaders, as I’ve discussed with some of the U.S. press that were along, I think there is a key component for the tribal process that has led to some of the fragmentation in much of the country, but in particular in the west and south. Then I’ll go down to Rumbek and I think as I talked about with Dr. Garang, the United States and others are providing some very significant support in getting up the government in the South and he and I talked about some of the particular elements for their infrastructure, for roads, or schools, or some of the support for the military forces and I hope to get a more in depth discussion about that.
And then I’ll go to Darfur also so I’ll see the A.U. team and see the NGOs and our AID mission and have a chance to at least see a small part of it myself, with my own eyes, so I can try to bring back that message as well. So, it’s been a busy morning.
QUESTION: In your conversations with V.P. Taha and Mr. Garang, did you seek or get any specific commitments that they will do the things that you feel need to be done…namely to stop the violence?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, first, since each session was about 30 minutes and I’ve already seen both of them. What I really wanted to do was to kind of reemphasize the big picture, but then try to get some sense of some of the specifics. Let’s take the pieces.
Both of them conveyed a sense on the follow-through of the CPA that they hoped that the National Constitutional Review Commission will actually get up and running this month. That is an important process in developing the interim constitution. They both explained that they have a well developed draft of the interim constitution, but part of the process of creating this national constitutional review commission is that there are many other parties involved, and so they want to, in a sense, broaden and make more inclusive that drafting process which is part of the thing I mentioned in my remarks about making sure it’s a transparent and inclusive process.
And they are still both looking to try to create the national unity government by July, so I was encouraged about those elements.
In terms of Darfur, I discussed with Vice Presidence Taha the criticality of the same points that I mentioned in my opening statement; he made quite clear that they don’t want to have strife in Darfur, but we have to follow up exactly how we can try to make sure that that is the case. Again he re-emphasizes his government’s commitment to the North/South process and a process of peaceful reconciliation.
I made some suggestions about some ways in which the government can help show to the world that it wants to follow through on these items, and these are some topics I’m sure we’ll talk about more in Khartoum. For Dr. Garang the focus was more on setting up the government in the south, but he has emphasized to me, in both my conversations with him - the first phone call and here - that he sees this as not only a political but also a moral imperative, and so he has contact with some of the parties, some of the tribal groups but others primarily with the Fur, but not with some the other groups and so he said that he would also try to press through his network of contacts.
And then also I think we’ve got a good sense from Jan Pronk who has been very deeply engaged in this issue about some of the messages that we all need to send to the government as well as to the rebel parties, to try to create a context for this to come together. And I think one other point (laugh) is that we’ve been in many meetings over the years.
This is one where you really feel there’s a common message coming out and this, going back to my remarks to the conference, you can see - now all the forces in Sudan can see - that the positive pathway will get some very strong support from the world. We’re talking about some very large sums of money here, not the least of which is from the United States. But on the other hand, to do that, you have to move forward on a process of peaceful reconciliation.
QUESTION Lene Řstby TV2, Norway: Do you have some kind of time frame for when you want to see improvement, especially in Darfur?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well I’d like to see improvement as soon as we can and the point of emphasis in my remarks was that we are watching events day-by-day and we and others working in the African Union know when things aren’t going right. So, there are different ways of showing progress and there are things that the government can do in terms of A.U. monitoring of flights and other things.
But the purpose of my being here and discussing this (inaudible) system is to go beyond that and also try to look for creating the conditions where people can return home. And a point that I emphasize with our press is that the goal here is not just to provide humanitarian support to millions of people in camps, the goal is to create the conditions eventually where those displaced people can return home with their lands and this will not be easy because we’ve got conflicts here or property rights and territorial rights, instead of different tribes that have been in conflict but that’s where we try to go.
QUESTION Joel Brinkley NY Times: While everyone expressed concern about obviously what’s going on in Darfur, did you feel that other countries shared your view that this aid offered today should be conditional in progress in Darfur?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Again, just to be precise so that I’m not taking your assumption…what I have stressed thoughout is that we want to try to support the North-South process and, as we’ve discussed separately, a large amount of our contribution is going to the forces in the South to create the infrastructure. But I’ve emphasized that it’ll be very difficult for us to work with the Sudanese government – the government in Khartoum – unless the situation in Darfur improves, and I’ve got a pretty general sense that that was a shared view by other parties, but I really should let them speak for themselves.
(Adam Ereli: The lady in the back.)
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) from AFP. To go back to the issue of conditionality, is it fair to say that further funding will be conditioned on peace advances in Darfur, or is it that you’re going to direct the funding only to the South and nothing to the North, and the North is not only the government from what I understand, I mean there are also forces that are not governmental, so, I mean, can you elaborate on this issue of conditionality on advances in Darfur and your support to the CPA?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, you have funds going to different projects here; it’s easy to probably get them confused. Just, you know, for example, just in the UN’S framework you have this 1.5 billion assessment for use in 2005, much of which are humanitarian, much of which are food aid, but not all. Then you have the joint assessment, which is the 2.6 billion dollars of a larger, 7 billion plus sum, the remainder of which is to be supplied by the Sudanese government and of that 2.6 billion, much of that is related to, I mean, that is a North-South accord, largely related to the South. In addition, we put forward funds that, among other purposes, support the African Union Mission, for example, some of the peace-keeping forces. So, in terms of our support, what I have stressed is we want to try, for example, to supply humanitarian needs wherever we encounter them, and, obviously, we want to try to support strengthening the infrastructure in the South. That would be schools, health clinics, infrastructure -- part of Dr. Garang’s delegation, he had one of the governors, I believe, was from Nua, who was talking about some of the things they try to develop in terms of schools.
So my point of emphasis has been that for us to sustain support, particularly related to the government in Khartoum, we’re going to have to see action in Darfur.
Now, this will be also a question for other countries to have to deal with, though, and that is, as various publics and parliaments and congresses have to support money, are they going to be able to distinguish easily among these forces. That’s an open question. So, the key emphasis is, there’s a positive pathway here, and it’s not only one of financial support. Keep in mind for the government of Khartoum you have a desire to go towards more normalized relations with the United States and other countries; you have a desire to interact more effectively with the rest of the international economic community; and there’s disincentives, which include some of the UN actions in terms of potential sanctions and accountability in the human rights abuses. So there’s a combination of incentives and disincentives here, and my key point on the financial one, is that for us to be able to support the government of Khartoum, which at some point along here is supposed to be a national unity government, we’re going to need to see action in Darfur.
QUESTION Glenn Kessler, WP: Yes, did you raise with Vice President Taha the government’s crackdown this week on the main opposition party?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I didn’t get to that. What I did raise was the incident in South Darfur in particular and our ability, and others’, to go in and know precisely what’s going on in each of these places and why they need to get these things stopped. Now, as one will encounter in many of these actions of violence, you’ve got the murky involvement of various parties – you can identify trucks, you can interview the people – but I said that the government of Sudan’s got to be responsible for basic security in its own country.
QUESTION: Sir, what about that crackdown? What’s the US position on this, that opposition parties technically have been outlawed, their offices broken into?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, when I go there, I’m going to be talking to the government about a full range of things, which I couldn’t do in thirty minutes here and I intend to want to talk about these things first with them as opposed to in a general sense. But, what we have emphasized is that if you’re going to create a open global process, it has to be open to all parties, it has to be inclusive, it has to be transparent. So, it was useful when the forces from the South started to come to Khartoum and were welcome in trying to create that process, but as I’ve also emphasized, it’s got to expand).
(Ereli: Let’s make this the last question. Sir?)
QUESTION: Are you putting the political process between the North and South …such as national unity…constitutional…in the front burner so as to have a change in government of Khartoum without changing things in Darfur …therefore and, b) are you putting some pressure on the groups in Darfur to come to the negotiating table?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Yes. On your first one, I tried to make the point that I think that the challenges are inextricably linked, and so I’m hopeful that the process of the North/South accord, taking the steps to create the Constitutional Commission – the interim constitution and the National Unity government – if that can be done over the course of the coming months with the target of July, that would help create a better political environment for dealing with the other problems in the country, including in Darfur…
QUESTION: Are you pushing on that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, I think that the parties themselves are pushing, but, yes, we’re pushing on it to make sure that it gets done, and I just talked with the South African minister about the contacts that she’s had to try to support and press the parties forward, and so part of it is done in Khartoum, but part of it is also enhancing the capability of the teams in the South as well. So, yes, that’s a key emphasis, but I want to also emphasize it doesn’t take precedence over making sure that there’s basic security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur, because, as I’ve emphasized, I think the two are inextricably linked. Now, your second question was…?
QUESTION: About Darfur.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I thought I might have mentioned, is that some of my colleagues from the State Department will be meeting some of the rebel groups and trying to encourage them to engage constructively in the process, and we have had a series of contacts with these groups – as you know, you’ve got different groups; you’ve got different leaders in the field than you do in the Diaspora – and I’ve also talked with some of the other parties here about how we can also reach out to those groups and emphasize….Now, here’s the positive message: the positive message is, if you come together for a process of peaceful reconciliation, you can see the type of support that we can draw internationally for that to occur – that’s the message of the Norwegian conference.
So, people should turn to the negotiating table, they should come without pre-conditions, and they should take advantage as well of the provisions of the North-South accord which create opportunities for more autonomy, more federalism, so there’s a political framework in the North-South accord as well as a political message for the North-South accord. And so, those are the messages that we’re trying to communicate. At the same time, we’re trying to build confidence among all parties because there’s obviously been a shortage of that.
(Ereli: Thank you very much.)
Ends at 1:15 p.m.
Released on April 12, 2005