US delaying sanctions on Sudan while UN negotiates
Apr 11, 2007, 17:27 GMT
Washington – The United States has held off imposing bilateral sanctions on Sudan over the conflict in Darfur to give the United Nations time to negotiate with Khartoum over the deployment of a peacekeeping force, a senior US official said Wednesday.
The special US envoy for the conflict in Sudan, Andrew Natsios, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the United States to delay punitive measures and give the current round of negotiations a chance to succeed.
‘As a courtesy to the secretary general, we’ve agreed to that delay,’ Natsios told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ‘But there is a finite limit to it. And if we continue to see stonewalling, then those measures are going to be implemented.’
Natsios said if the negotiations fail to convince Sudan to permit the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, the United States will proceed with travel bans, the freezing of bank accounts and sanctions against more than two dozen large companies owned by the Sudanese government.
The United States accuses the Sudanese government of supporting Janjaweed militias in Darfur, where four years of fighting have left more than 200,000 people dead and forced more than 2 million people to flee.
The UN Security Council backed sending a peacekeeping force to Darfur last year to take over for a beleaguered African Union force which has been unable to enforce a peace agreement signed in May 2006.
Sudanese President Omar Bashir has refused to accept the force, leading to a standoff with the Security Council as the fighting in western Darfur continues. China, which holds veto authority on the Security Council, has close business ties to Sudan and will be reluctant to approve UN sanctions.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was to depart Wednesday on a trip to Africa in an effort to place more pressure on Bashir, who has not caved in during other visits by top US officials, including Natsios, and other international officials.
Negroponte’s April 11-19 trip also includes stops in Mauritania, Libya and Chad, which lies on the border with Darfur and has been the destination of those fleeing.