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US Divides Sudan Resolutions in Attempt to Break Security Council Impasse

The United States has divided up a controversial draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Sudan in hopes of breaking a lengthy deadlock that has prevented action on Darfur. A vote on at least one of the resolutions could come as early as Thursday.

U.S. diplomats submitted three resolutions Tuesday that separate the main issues dividing the Security Council over Sudan, in an attempt to end weeks of stalemate.

The first would authorize a 10,000 strong peacekeeping force to monitor a peace agreement that ended a 21-year war between the government in Khartoum and southern rebels. A second draft would toughen sanctions against perpetrators of atrocities in the western Darfur region. The third is aimed at establishing a way of bringing Darfur war crimes suspects to justice.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Anne Patterson said the decision to divide the issues was a sign that Washington's patience had run out. "This has gone on for weeks and we are simply running out of time and it was critical to move ahead. It was just sort of coming to a head, so we decided to split them up," she said.

The measure authorizing a peacekeeping force is expected to win easy approval. A vote is likely Thursday. But the other two face tough opposition.

The United States had been pushing hard for language that would toughen sanctions against perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur. But they encountered stiff opposition from veto-wielding Council members China and Russia. Ambassador Patterson rejected a reporter's suggestion that dividing the resolution has weakened chances for approval of sanctions.

"We actually think it does the reverse and will get us more support in the Council. Particularly on the first two, the peacekeeping and the sanctions. It's clear there is very broad support for the peacekeeping resolutions and that is very critical because it will strengthen the new government in Sudan and get more boots on the ground in Sudan," she said.

The third resolution, on where to hold trials for war crimes suspects, faces stiff opposition. Most Council members have expressed a preference for using the newly established International Criminal Court at the Hague. The United States, Algeria and China oppose the ICC. Washington favors an African Union-led tribunal.

There was no word Tuesday on when votes might be scheduled on the sanctions and war crimes resolutions.