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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2005 > January

Interview with John Gachie of Sudan Mirror and with Nemat Bilal of Sudan News Agency

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Hotel Intercontinental
Nairobi, Kenya
January 8, 2005

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I’d just like to say how honored I am to be here to represent President Bush and the American people at the signing of the agreement tomorrow. And it is with great hope in our hearts that this agreement will be carried out in the best possible spirit so we can bring peace to Sudan and the conflict that has gone on so long between the North and the South. And it is also our hope that as a result of this, we can get momentum in solving the situation in Darfur. The people of Sudan deserve peace, they deserve the opportunity to build their lives and raise their children and educate their children, and they deserve an end to conflict of any kind, whether it is North-South, or East-West.

And so tomorrow is an important day, an historic day. It’s a day that President Bush has worked for during the first four years of his administration. Very early in his administration, he directed me and Ambassador Danforth to make it a high priority and do everything that we could to move the process along. That’s what we have been doing and tomorrow that effort and the effort of so many other individuals will be crowned with success.

I especially want to offer congratulations to the leaders involved: President Bashir, Vice President Taha, and Dr. John Garang, but also to the IGAD process, Kenya’s role, and the very, very important role played by General Sumbeiywo. And I hope that the pre-interim period, which begins right away, will be a successful pre-interim period for six months, and then we can enter into the interim period.

MR. GACHIE: Mr. Secretary, what would be the American government pledge in the rehabilitation of Sudan? With the signing of the peace agreement tomorrow, and the United States had been at the forefront pushing this process, others were in the background, but I think the main force was the U.S.

SECRETARY POWELL: We’ve been pretty much in the forefront and the background [laughter] but we also know that tomorrow is not an end, tomorrow is a beginning. And that American involvement will have to be even greater to move forward. And it will be a different kind of involvement. It will involve the building of an administrative structure, building schools, building infrastructure, building roads, to develop the South, and to integrate the South into the rest of the country. And so, I want to reassure your leaders that America will be just involved in the future, if not more so, than it was in the past to get us to this point.

MS. BILAL: Your excellence, can you comment on the role played by the international community to make this great success in the observers to make this peace process a success.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the international community was involved in many ways. The IGAD process, and what we were doing through the work of the United Nations. But in the future, the international role will be even greater since the U.N. will be responsible for monitoring the agreement – some 10,000 peacekeepers and monitors will come into the region. The United States, of course, will help pay for that. The United States Agency for International Development has done a lot of work already in the region – with the building of schools, the building of roads, and we expect to scale up those efforts. I hope that other international organizations – perhaps the European Union or others - will get deeply involved and provide the financial assistance and the technical assistance that will be necessary for us to be successful in this effort. The biggest challenge I think is not only the integration of two parts of Sudan with a single unity government, but development in the South. Twenty years of war have devastated the South, and now is the time for rebuilding, now is the time for putting hope back in the lives of people, educating youngsters, using the oil revenues that are available for all of the Sudanese for good purpose to build the infrastructure.

MS. BILAL: As observer, the United States, what do you think the most [inaudible] in the negotiations, the turning point [inaudible]

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there’s been a very long negotiation, and it had many ups and downs. I was here in October of 2003 at Lake Naivasha, and at that time, we thought we were close, and we even got a commitment from the two sides that they would finish the work by the end of 2003. It didn’t happen.

And then I think the key event was when Ambassador Danforth brought the Security Council permanent members here in November, and that was a catalyzing event to pull the parties back together. The UN resolution that came out of that gave them encouragement to finish the work by the end of the year, and they did - on the very last day of the year. The day before, on the 30th, I called Dr. Garang and Vice President Taha, and said to them, "Let’s go. This is it. We have to finish this now." And so for the first time in the whole of my conversations with Vice President Taha and Dr. Garang, I could hear over the telephone a smile on their faces [laughter]. When they were finally were telling me, "Yeah, we’ve got a little more negotiation to do, but we’re going to get it done." And the next day, I got a call that they had done it. So I was very pleased about that. So, there were many ups and downs. I have to pay particular tribute to the role of General Lazarus Sumbeiywo who for 11 years has been pursuing this.

MR. GACHIE: Your Excellency, how would you then tie up with one peace now North-South? We have a problem in Darfur, we have a problem that is simmering in the East, and we also have a problem – perhaps not as a direct influence- in North Sudan. How do you tie all this, resolve that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you start with the first piece – the agreement tomorrow. That gives you a unity government. Dr. Garang will ultimately, in the near future, become a part of that government. And I hope that this government will show to the people of Darfur and to the belligerents of Darfur a new face and the new unity government can persuade the rebels to enter a political process and not keep attacking. And I hope also that this government will be able, perhaps more effectively than the current government has been able to, bring the Janjaweed and the other militia under control.

We have been saying for many months now – the United States, the United Nations and others – that the fighting in Darfur must be brought to an end so that the people can be given the humanitarian care that they need, but more importantly, to go back to their homes. Neither the United Nations nor the United States wants to see camps forever. That’s a failure. We want to see camps temporarily – just until people are able to go home and plant their crops again, rebuild their homes, rebuild their schools. But they can’t do that if there’s continued conflict between the government and the rebels.

So, I hope that what we accomplish tomorrow will be new incentive now to enter into political dialogue between the rebels and the government in Khartoum. And if that peace starts to come together and show some success, then I think the likelihood of the eastern conflict getting out of [inaudible] hand is lessened.

MS. BILAL: The Sudan government we expect also that the United States continue to play this great role in getting the peace but this sanction from the United States on Sudan, we think it gives negative signal for our people. You know.. The situation is likely to be after this improved, but this process or this [inaudible]

SECRETARY POWELL: I’m not sure I understand the question. The question – you say that, I’m not sure I understood the question?

MR BOUCHER: Sanctions.

MS. BILAL: Yes sanction.

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, well as you know, we have removed some sanctions and the United States hopes that relations will improve with the government of Sudan, and that some of the outstanding concerns that we had will be dealt with. We have increased the size of our presence – our diplomatic presence – in Khartoum, and I hope that the situation will improve to the point where there will be no need for any sanctions whatsoever, and we can have full, global diplomatic relations.

Tomorrow moves us in that direction. The United States does not like sanctioning any other nation. It’s something that we often find it necessary to do because of policies of that other nation, but we want to eliminate these sanctions as soon as the circumstances permit, when the situation is changed so that the sanctions can be lifted.

So I think tomorrow moves us in the right direction -- improving relations between the United States and Sudan, and it moves us down the path toward normal diplomatic relations.

GACHIE: You just came back from I think Southeast Asia, and the tsunami and all that stuff. The fear is that the new pledges might eat into your pledges for Africa.

SECRETARY POWELL: We’ve contributed $400 million to Darfur so far, and we understand that the suffering in Darfur is every bit as bad as what’s been happening in South Asia – a million and a half people are in need in Darfur. So the United States will continue to meet its pledges in Darfur, just as we are now pledging and will meet those pledges in South Asia. We will not be taking money away from Darfur in order to deal with the problems in South Asia. The people of Darfur are in desperate need for help. Thank you so much. Goodbye.


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