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Obama Warns of Greater Darfur Crisis


U.S. President Barack Obama is warning of an even greater humanitarian crisis in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. The fate of the people of Darfur dominated his talks at the White House with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The meeting took place just days after the International Criminal Court said it will seek the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes.

President Obama says since then, the situation in Darfur has gotten worse.

"The Khartoum government has kicked out some of the most important non-governmental organizations that provide direct humanitarian aid to millions of people," said President Obama.

Speaking to reporters at the end of his meeting with Ban Ki-moon, the president said too many lives have been placed at risk.

"We have a potential crisis of even greater dimensions than what we already saw," said Mr. Obama.

President Obama said it is important for the international community to send a strong unified message to Khartoum that this growing humanitarian crisis is unacceptable.

He said the United States wants to work actively with the United Nations to help solve this crisis and put Sudan on the path to long term peace and stability.

"It is something that we care about deeply and we are hopeful that we can make some significant progress," he said.

The president and the secretary general also discussed climate change, Afghanistan and Haiti.

Mr. Ban came to Washington from Port-au-Prince, where he urged political and economic reforms in one of the world's poorest nations.

He said Haiti is one of many challenges now before world leaders.

"I think the year 2009 is a make or break year, full of crises on many fronts for the United Nations, for the United States and the whole international community as a whole," said Ban Ki-moon.

This was the first formal meeting between the two men. And both stressed their determination to work together. They will meet again in a few weeks at an international financial summit in London.


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