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Remarks With President's Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew S. Natsios After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 20, 2006

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SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I have just had an opportunity to meet with the President's Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew Natsios who has just returned from a trip to Sudan. I've met with Andrew and with members of our Africa team and our team on the Middle East because this is an issue of deep concern to the United States and deep concern to the President of the United States.

Secrtary Rice meets with the  Presidents Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew S. Natsios.   State Department photo by Michael Gross.We've reviewed the situation. Andrew moved, I think, the ball forward when he was in Sudan principally by taking on a request that there be a new presidential statement in the United Nations that would affirm our commitment to the agreement that Kofi Annan worked out in Addis that was a request of the Government of Khartoum. That Presidential Statement was delivered in record time by the Security Council and is now in place. And now we expect the Government of Khartoum to respond positively to that action in the UN because it is extremely important that a robust security force, a robust peacekeeping force that can actually help to end the violence and to bring relief to the many innocent men, women and children who are suffering in Sudan, that these steps be taken.

Andrew, thank you very much for the work that you're doing. We are -- we have put a new chapter ahead of us and I hope now that the Government of Khartoum is going to deliver. Do you want to say a few words?

MR. NATSIOS: We also did get a two-year extension of the accelerated procedure for NGOs and aid workers from the UN to get into Darfur. They had not been extending this procedure. It's up in January. I asked President Bashir to do that and they announced yesterday that they were going to extend the procedure for two years, which was a -- good news for the humanitarian effort.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you said that you expect them to respond. Do you have a reason to believe that they actually will, given their intransigence, so far?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we will see. But I think the international community has spoken. It has spoken repeatedly, but it has spoken again and it has spoken in response to a desire from the Government of Khartoum, President Bashir to have a reaffirmation by the Security Council of the agreements that Kofi Annan was able to work out. And that reaffirmation has taken place and so I would hope that there'd be a positive response and we will see.

Thank you.



Released on December 20, 2006

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