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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 > 2004 > June

Remarks to the Press en Route Khartoum

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Khartoum, Sudan
June 29, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, we'll go right to questions, because I've got some things I have to do. Barbara?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you coming with a stern message for the Sudanese, that they would face economic sanctions, investment sanctions, not just freezing of assets or visa restrictions, but something really tough if they don't allow humanitarian aid in and help these people?

SECRETARY POWELL: I hope to give them a very direct message about how the United States and the international community sees the horrific situation that exists in Darfur and that we have discussed this with them previously. We were instrumental in putting in place the early April ceasefire and everything that was laid out in that N’Djamena Accord is what we expect to see. And we need to see action promptly, because people are dying and the death rate is going to go up significantly over the next several months.

I'll go through what I hope to see them do with respect to ending support for the Jingaweit, but doing more than ending support--actually bringing them under control--and the need to start a political process with the rebel groups so that we don't get right back into the cycle of it all breaking out again; the need to allow full access of the humanitarian effort that is underway and the workers that are there, to include visas, everything else that is needed to speed up the delivery of supplies; the need to work with the monitoring group that is headed by the AU and has EU and other representatives within it; the whole range of issues.

And I will make the clear point that this will affect what we are able to do, under the North-South work that we've been doing, the Lake Naivasha Accords that we worked so hard on and showed so much promise for a better future relationship with Sudan. But, unless we resolve the Darfur situation and do it quickly, all that is put at risk.

QUESTION: What about UN Security Council action?

SECRETARY POWELL: We'll also let them know that we are in discussions on specific language with some of our UN Security Council colleagues. And this is, of course, something I will have a chance to discuss with Kofi Annan tomorrow afternoon, as well.

QUESTION: What is your feeling about the nature of the response so far from the rest of the international community in terms of humanitarian support and political pressure?

SECRETARY POWELL: The humanitarian support is there, in the sense that there are food stocks, stocks (inaudible). Andrew has been sending in a lot of material. There are long-haul trucks available.

We have been working with the Libyans and they have shown the willingness to open another route that will be a better route than the two coming in from the east. And the Libyans have been very open on that and we’re going to do that.

Money is available. We've spent something like [$116 million] over the last year or so and Congress, in the current supplemental, both on the Senate side and the House side, look like they're putting in another $90 million.

So, the resources are there. Time is of the essence and action is of the essence. They’ve got to act now because we are running out of time. And the demographics are such and we have learned from people who are experts in these matters, and Andrew can talk more about it, that some of these people have been condemned to death already. They will die in August and September. And there is nothing we can do to stop it. So, we have got to act now, not later. We cant’ talk. We have to see action. And that will be the message I will give to them.

But there is a great deal in increasing support from the international community; that is why Kofi Annan is here. I spoke with Hilary Benn, the British Minister who is responsible for these matters, yesterday and I think everybody realizes the nature of the catastrophe that is on our hands.

QUESTION: When we talk about the consequences that you are prepared to lay out with the Sudanese leadership, you say that if the Naivasha Accords are put on hold, the kind of benefits they would get from that. Are there any other consequences, such as UN sanctions, that you are prepared to say to them, ‘look, this is what we are going to put on the table if you don’t do them?’

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, but I’d prefer to discuss that with them first.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned that the Sudanese government might may try to show you people tomorrow who are not exactly representative of the crisis as a whole?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I’ve been to places like this before and I know what can be arranged. But, I’m not going in as, on an interview mission or as grand jury, I’m going to see, and I will take into account everything I hear. I think I can sort out where people are constrained from speaking.

We have been watching these places very carefully through a variety of means and we know what they look like, how many people have been there in the past and if suddenly there aren’t that many people there tomorrow, I will take that all into my computer.

QUESTION: Why is it so difficult to get the world’s attention for catastrophes like this?

QUESTION: Because your newspaper refuses to put it on the front page.

(Laughter)

That’s not true actually. They did two front-page stories about Darfur.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we are getting the world’s attention. It’s not as if we haven’t been doing a lot. The United States has been in the forefront on this for a long time; Andrew especially has made this a passion of his. And we have gotten the Secretary General and our colleagues in the Security Council, at least, now energized. But sometimes people have to see it, they have to read about it, they have to see it on television and they will see more of it on television tomorrow, I hope. And you have got to touch their consciences; you have got to touch their emotions. And so, that’s what I hope is happening with Congressman Wolf’s visit, with Senator Brownback, who has been such a leader in this, as has Congressman Wolf, with Kofi’s visit and a number of other ministers who are now going in.

So, I want to bring attention to this, so not only do we bring it directly to the attention of the Sudanese leaders again in a direct way, but I think by going out and seeing these camps, meeting with Kofi will elevate it. Unless it gets that kind of elevation there are just so many other things going on in the world that tend not to make it as newsworthy as it should be. Because no matter what else is going on in the world today, as you heard me say before: 8,000 people died today of AIDS and thousands of people have been consigned to their death in Darfur. But, it doesn’t always make page one of a newspaper or the first two minutes of the evening news.

QUESTION: Tell us what you will tell the Sudanese leaders about the genocide determination that is being made by your government and what it will mean? And also, if you can tell us what your position is on getting a peacekeeping force in Darfur?

SECRETARY POWELL: The issue of genocide is a legal determination and my counsel, Will Taft, as well as Pierre Prosper, who you all know, are examining this carefully. Ambassador Prosper testified last week that we see indicators and elements that would start to move you toward a genocidal conclusion. But, we’re not there yet. And, frankly, I hope we don’t get there.

Whether you call it genocide or whether somebody prefers to call it ethnic cleansing or some people think, as a technical matter, it doesn’t reach the level of either ethnic cleansing or genocide. I will let Ambassador Prosper and all the lawyers argue about that. What we are seeing is a disaster, a catastrophe, and we can find the right label for it later. We’ve got to deal with it now. That’s my focus.

With respect to peacekeeping forces, there is analysis underway with us and the UN peacekeeping office. But we really have to take a hard look at this and the size of the area, the difficulty of operating in this area and where one would find a significant number of forces to go into the area would be very problematic. And therefore the better answer is to have the Sudanese government take control of these militias, the Jingaweit, all other who are out there and I think that they have the capacity to do that and we want to encourage them to have the will to do it and to do it right away.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if you want television, you can make that happen and Charlie can explain better than I how, because there are logistical problems here. How much responsibility does the US bear for this, by being distracted by the April accords and the attempt to reach them, and not paying attention, or as much attention, to what was happening in Darfur?

SECRETARY POWELL: I’m sorry, I just reject that. I have been watching this day-by-day. I have, if you want to do a Lexis-Nexis, I’ve been speaking out on this directly—so has the President. And Andrew, who works for me, has been deeply involved in it—so is Mike Rannenberger, back there, who is my assistant for this. We have been working hard on this. We’ve been performing a leadership role with respect to the April accords, trying to get them implemented, trying to get the government moving. In every conversation that I have had with the Vice President, Taha, or Foreign Minister Ismail or President Bashir, on Lake Naivasha we also talked about Darfur and how that would affect it.

So, I regret that we didn’t get the kind of response that I think we should have gotten at that time, but it is not because the United States was distracted. There are many things on our plate and I don’t have the luxury in my daily life of being distracted. They are all there, whether it is North Korea, what we are going to be doing in Indonesia for the next two days, Darfur or what we did in Ireland, Ankara and Istanbul over the last several days. And in Iraq. And in Afghanistan.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: We raised this with Vice President Taha last October, what was happening in Darfur, when we went to see him in Khartoum. So, this has been raised nine months ago in a very very strong way.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, apart from Libya showing a willingness to open up a new path into the region, are there other African countries that have volunteered to contribute forces or resources?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don’t know of any African countries contributing forces other than what the African Union is doing with the monitoring group. Andrew? No. Michael?

AMBASSADOR RANNENBERGER: There are 24 monitors in right now and the African Union is supposed to be expanding to 120 as quickly as they can.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay? Enough?

QUESTION: Why no dinner with the president tonight? And tomorrow is a Sudanese holiday, it’s a holiday in Sudan, it’s a national holiday. Are you at all worried that your presence there on a national holiday is going to give them the wrong impression?

SECRETARY POWELL: We’re getting in quite late and we started quite early. And I appreciate the offer of hospitality but in light of the fact that I’ll be with them a good part of tomorrow. As you know, they’ll be flying out with us. I didn’t think it was…

QUESTION: Who?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we’ll let you know when we are on the plane tomorrow. But it didn’t seem that it was necessary to tie up my hosts any longer with a dinner. But they did make a proper offer and I am pleased. But, they have so many visitors flying through right now. In addition to our CODELS, and Kofi Annan, I appreciate the offer but we both mutually agreed that it wasn’t something that was really necessary.

Tomorrow is the “Independence Day,” as they call it. And I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a problem. We’ve thought of that. And we’re meeting with the president tonight. I’m sure he’ll be busy with what he has to do tomorrow. But I won’t be in the way of any of their celebrations or the coincidence of my being there on that day I don’t think will have any significance.

SECRETARY POWELL: Who is flying out with you from the Sudanese government and will Kofi Annan be on this plane tomorrow as well?

QUESTION: You’ll know tomorrow when we take off.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
2004/738


Released on June 29, 2004

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