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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 with Foreign Minister Ismail of the Republic of Sudan

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

FOREIGN MINISTER ISMAIL: Good evening, let me welcome you all, and welcome Mr. Powell for his first visit to Sudan as Secretary of State. Secretary Powell and I had a good encounter before a meeting with the President, where we exchanged views on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. President Bashir, and Secretary Powell also, had broad and extensive discussions on bilateral issues. President Bashir thanks President Bush and the U.S. administration for its continued support on the humanitarian front, and you all know that the United States is the biggest donor in this field. As well, President Bashir also thanks the Administration for its effort in the peace process in the south of Sudan. President Bashir also gave a detailed account of the Government’s efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, with a special emphasis on the recent decision and the measures he personally has taken. On the peace front, the President expressed the determination to complete the Naivasha process as soon as possible.

May I also take this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that through the last year we had notable progression in (inaudible) combating terrorism and the peace efforts in the south, which resulted in the historic signing of the Six Protocols. During these past years, it is proof that the (inaudible) Government has kept its promises on all issues agreed upon by the two sides. I sincerely hope that Secretary Powell’s visit to both Khartoum and Al Fasher will enable him to pass first-hand information about the real situation on the ground. Secretary Powell today asked for specific measures. We say that we will look at it this. These include lifting of bans, resolution concerning the (inaudible), also more security (inaudible) and to disarm militias. We are (inaudible). Thank you very much, and now let me now introduce you to Secretary Powell.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I’m pleased to be here and we did have, as you said, very direct, straightforward and candid conversations, in which the two of us and then we joined the President and I’m pleased he was able to receive me this evening. In my conversations with the President, I took note of the progress we have made over the last several years in bringing peace to the country by the Lake Naivasha process, which resulted in the signing of the Six Protocols. As President Bush has said, he is very anxious to see these Protocols signed on the way to a comprehensive agreement—a comprehensive agreement that would lead the way toward normalization of relations between our two countries and removal of (inaudible) restrictions.

The reason for my visit, though, was not just to celebrate what we have been able to do at Lake Naivasha, but also to express our concern about the situation in Darfur. President Bush, his Administration and the international community, to include Secretary General Kofi Annan, are concerned with the humanitarian situation in Darfur. As the Minister noted, we had very direct conversations about the needs of the region. Need number one is security, additional security, so that the people of Darfur feel that they can be safe, feel that they will not be subject to violence, so that the humanitarian effort can go on unimpeded. We then also talked with them about the humanitarian effort, as the Minister mentioned. We need to make sure that there are no impediments to the delivery of assistance, no impediments to the distribution of the assistance when it comes in to the country. The United States is pleased to be the largest contributor, and continues to be the largest contributor of humanitarian aid. We’ve contributed over [$116 million] in the past year and our Congress is close to appropriating another $90 million to this purpose.

We also hope that the government will make firm actions with respect to the process of reconciliation. We want to see reconciliation between the government and the opposing forces, so that we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation in a year or two or three from now. And we also hope that the government will do everything it can to allow African Union monitoring groups to build up the size of its brigades. We’ve heard about that and we will talk more about that (inaudible) tomorrow.

I indicated to the Minister and to the President the deep concern that is felt in the international community to the extent that the international community believes unless we see more movement soon in all these areas, it may be necessary that the international community begin considering other actions, to include Security Council action. The Minister and I, along with other Ministers who were present this evening, will be spending time, and our staffs will be spending time, tomorrow (inaudible) examining differences of…different points of view with respect to the actual situation on the ground, to seek if we can get a common understanding with what needs to be done. In my travels out and back to Darfur tomorrow I will have the opportunity on my plane to discuss these issues with Sudanese officials at a senior level. And I’ll return to Khartoum tomorrow afternoon and have a chance to speak to Kofi Annan, perhaps we’ll have some more information on what we will be able to do to help the Sudanese government and help people of Darfur.

It is the purpose of my visit here is to be helpful, to take the process that we started with the Government of Sudan, three and a half years ago, when President Bush came into office. He put the process on track and hopefully my visit will serve that purpose. I look forward to the conversations that we have tomorrow, the conversations of my staff will be having tomorrow. So thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for receiving us.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you heard, at least initially, the kind of response you were looking for in terms of the Sudanese government acting aggressively to disarm the militias?

SECRETARY POWELL: I did hear words to that effect, their desire to make sure that the environment is secure, otherwise the humanitarian aid cannot be put in, in an efficient manner, otherwise there will still be fear throughout the region, otherwise people will not be able to return to their homes. What I wish to explore at great depth tomorrow is exactly how that is going (inaudible) in the camps and what plans does the government have to provide that security environment, basically the disarming of militias or the use of police forces, or withdrawal of the forces of the Jingaweit from the area. And that’s what we’ll be pursuing tomorrow.

The Government made clear to me this evening, the President did and the Foreign Minister, that they understand that security has to be the number one. Without security, without the people feeling that they’re being protected, all the efforts that have been made, we’ve been pursuing with respect to humanitarian relief and assistance will not be successful. I heard that very clearly. I also heard a grateful statement from the President, and from the Ministers who were there, that every effort will be made to remove any bureaucratic impediments to the delivery of aid and the means to deliver aid and we’ll be pursuing that tomorrow.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Powell, (inaudible) of the relationship between Sudan (inaudible). When President Bush (inaudible). President (inaudible) said, “This is an audience between the youngest nation, USA, and the oldest nation, Sudan. After today, how far are you (inaudible). And, frankly speaking, (inaudible) to have a full partnership with Sudan?

SECRETARY POWELL: The United States wants to have open, friendly relations with every country who wants to be partners with us--every country who wishes to be a partner with us. When this Administration came into office, when President Bush came into office, the relationship was strained. We began working on it the right way and we have seen considerable improvement: sanctions began to be lifted in 2001, we want to keep on that path and increasingly mold our diplomatic representation here (inaudible). (Inaudible) reacting to concerns that in our mind we have responded in kind. And Lake Naivasha was a breakthrough to build on, not to lose the opportunities that Lake Naivasha has presented to us. (Inaudible) the situation in Darfur. But President Bush looks forward to the day when all these concerns have been dealt with, all the problems (inaudible) and we have open, candid conversations (inaudible) the Government of Sudan on all of these issues.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you give us some more details on your activities in Darfur tomorrow? Are they pre-arranged through the Sudanese officials? (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will be, of course, leaving here tomorrow—flying out. We’ll have government representatives on the plane with me, so we’ll have good conversation. We’ll drive out there and visit with some NGOs, we’re going to see some camps. We’ll give you a more detailed schedule later this evening. Obviously people (inaudible).

But, I think it should give me an opportunity to get an appreciation for what’s going on in (inaudible) and to see the people. And it’s not just my trip alone, it is the basis for a United States judgment of the situation. We have people out there working on the monitoring team. We have others that go back and forth between Embassy Khartoum. And so, in addition to those, we have AID officials who go around on a regular basis. So, we will have a great deal of information about this before we get out there. And we also use other means to determine the status of what goes on in the camps and the villages. So it will not just be this short trip by me that will be the basis of our understanding of the situation.

QUESTION: We think, the Sudanese people, that the United States information (inaudible). That some of this information is false. Do you think that the U.S. mass media and U.S. newspapers also are depending on some sources that are misleading them? Do you think, Mr. Colin Powell, that this correct information about Sudan so that will be also going in the right direction like that peace which lasts in (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: If I understand the question, with respect to how we make our judgments about the situation in Sudan, we, in fact, (inaudible) about where we get our information. We make our judgments by assembling all the information we can, and foremost we talk to the Government of Sudan. I want to what my colleague has to say. He is (inaudible) what he thinks, what he presents as the government’s position. (Inaudible). I hear it from groups in Khartoum (inaudible). We have intelligence means of gathering information. And so it is not just sitting around reading print media or watching television to make our judgments. We believe that we are very faithful to (inaudible) the situation and we gather all the information that can give us what we believe (inaudible). (Inaudible) good relations between the United States and Sudan. We want to help the people of Darfur and help solve the problems in Darfur and want to see the Lake Naivasha process move forward, as well.

QUESTION: My question is for the Foreign Minister. Mr. Foreign Minister, you’ve been quoted as saying that in Darfur there is no hunger, there is no malnutrition, there is no epidemic disease, and yet the U.S. government has reports they’ve distributed that talk about 13 camps reported to have people starving to death, where the mortality rate will rise in (inaudible), that most camps have shown no improvement in recent months. Based on what Secretary Powell has told you tonight, and to the President, are you ready to reassess the situation in Darfur?

FOREIGN MINISTER: We (inaudible) according to the information we have that is available, that gave us our position that we have said that there is no famine, there is no epidemic diseases. So, still I believe there is no famine (inaudible) but, humanitarian problem. But we still have to hope that we will reach a point where they will exchange information with us reach a point that our (inaudible).

Thank you.

Released on June 30, 2004

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