Bush Pressures Sudan Over Darfur Genocide
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And as we mentioned, part of President Bush's strategy is to get the United Nations to pass another resolution on Sudan. But judging from the early reaction to the president's remarks, the U.S. is likely to face some resistance.
NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN: President Bush is ratcheting up the pressure on Sudan just as U.N. officials try to revive a peace process on Darfur. Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin questioned the timing of President Bush's actions.
Mr. VITALY CHURKIN (Russia's Ambassador to the U.N.): This kind of a thing, to my mind, would be something of a departure from the current common strategy of the secretary-general and the Security Council.
KELEMEN: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon gave Sudan a plan last week for a more than 20,000 strong joint U.N.-African Union force for Darfur. He said he needs some time to get an agreement on this. China argues that sanctions could just complicate things further. China's special envoy on Sudan, Liu Guijin spoke today in Beijing.
Mr. LIU GUIJIN (China's Ambassador to Sudan): (Through translator) Persistent pressure and sanctions will not resolve these issues. They can only make the problems more complicated.
KELEMEN: He made clear that he believes China's investment in Sudan's oil sector can help alleviate the root causes of the crisis: poverty and underdevelopment. The conflict began four years ago when rebels rose up against the government, and Khartoum responded by bombing villages and arming Arab militias that forced millions of people from their homes. Sudan complains that the U.S. should be putting more pressure on rebels. Sudan's charge d'affaires in Washington, John Ukec says only one rebel leader signed a peace deal last year, and since then, the rebels have splintered.
Mr. JOHN UKEC (Charge D'Affaires, Sudan): The other rebels have not signed peace with us. So what we have to make peace with them? When we have dialogue, then peace will come out. Then when we have peace, then peacekeepers will really be welcome, just like the south and north have welcomed the peacekeepers into southern Sudan. That is the procedure. It's not just sanctions. It's not accusations. It's not sanctions. Sanctions will not help.
KELEMEN: The Bush administration was also criticized on the other side today, from the activists who have been pushing for a stronger U.S. response. David Rubenstein, the executive director of the Save Darfur Coalition, said the president's announcement on sanctions comes late.
Mr. DAVID RUBENSTEIN (Executive Director, Save Darfur Coalition): We think it's way too late. In February of last year, President Bush said that he was going to end the genocide. In September, Secretary Rice has said it's now or never. So this is months and months after that and yet, the effectiveness of what they've put out is still open to question.
KELEMEN: The trouble is, he says, the U.S. doesn't have much leverage with Sudan and already had plenty of sanctions on the books. So he said his coalition will continue to put a spotlight on others with leverage, mainly China.
Mr. RUBENSTEIN: The Chinese, of course, can think of nothing more important than the Beijing Olympics in 2008. And the world community has to let the Chinese know very clearly that the ideals of the Olympics are inconsistent with helping to sponsor - if not directly, certainly indirectly - the genocide by funding it and by protecting the Sudanese at the Security Council.
KELEMEN: U.S., British and French diplomats in New York say they will work on a draft resolution, but no word yet on when a formal debate will begin.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
NORRIS: And Michele mentioned that China is opposed to new sanctions on Sudan. You can hear what special envoy Andrew Natsios had to say about that tomorrow on MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.