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Rice Says Global Action Needed to End Darfur Conflict


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says ending the Darfur conflict will require concerted international pressure on Khartoum from among others, China and the Arab states. Rice met Tuesday with Sudan's Foreign Minister Deng Alor. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Rice is pledging a continuing intensive U.S. commitment to peace in Darfur but says it will take more than unilateral American diplomacy to end a conflict she says has genocidal tendencies and has lately spilled over into neighboring Chad.

The Secretary of State made the comments in a dialogue with students Tuesday at Washington's Georgetown University, where she defended the Bush administration's record in trying to end both the Darfur conflict and Sudan's north-south civil war.

Rice said the United States has been the world's leading supplier of humanitarian aid for Darfur and led every effort in the United Nations to augment peacekeeping forces there.

However, she said ending the conflict requires increased efforts by parties with more leverage on Khartoum than the United States, among them China and the Arab states.

"Ultimately, this is something the United States can't do alone. We are often accused of being too unilateralist, not this administration but American administrations in general. We are not able to deal with this crisis in a unilateral fashion. It requires U.N. peacekeepers, it requires an international effort in a humanitarian side. It requires an international effort of pressure on the Sudanese government to do what it has said it will do," she said.

Rice said the United States will be tireless and remain in the forefront of Darfur peace efforts in the U.N. Security Council and elsewhere but said it is time for the international community to, in her words, catch up, follow suit and solve this crisis.

The Secretary met Tuesday with Sudanese Foreign Minister Alor, and is understood to have reiterated U.S. concerns about the Sudanese military offensive in Darfur in recent days that has sent thousands of refugees fleeing into Chad.

Alor became foreign minister in December when Sudan's former southern rebels rejoined the national government after a lengthy walkout.

Officials here say that as a southerner, he may lack influence with the Sudan's Islamist leadership but is nonetheless another channel of communication with Khartoum.

In another development Tuesday, more than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on China to take stronger action to end Darfur violence.

The legislators, in an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, said without a much stronger effort by China to end Sudanese obstruction of peace efforts, recent progress will be undone and the possibility of an expanded regional crisis will grow.

China, which has extensive oil and other business dealings with Sudan, has used its veto power in the Security Council to prevent tough measures against Khartoum, though it is contributing troops to an expanded Darfur peacekeeping force.

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