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US to Send Team to Sudan - 2001-11-28


The Bush administration is sending a team of officials to Sudan next week to follow-up on proposals by U.S. special envoy John Danforth aimed at helping find a way to end the country's long-running civil war. Former Senator Danforth reported to President Bush Tuesday on his first mission to the war-ravaged African country.

Mr. Danforth met top officials of both the Sudanese government in Khartoum and southern-based SPLA rebels during a mission that also took him to Kenya and Egypt. Meeting reporters here after briefing President Bush on the trip, the former senator said conditions in Sudan, especially in the war-ravaged south, are "clearly desperate." He said the diplomatic landscape is littered with failed Sudan peace plans, and that what he is offering is a program of confidence measures, which, if implemented, would generate some trust and goodwill. "It goes on and on and on. And one thing that to me is clear is that nobody believes anybody," says Mr. Danforth. "So, I am saying "show me." I'm saying, "let's see some results." And, maybe, if we can have some results on these four areas, each of which has independent humanitarian value, and each of which would build toward peace - if we can have constructive results, real results, in these four areas, then that would be something."

Mr. Danforth wants the isolated Nuba Mountains, a rebel-held area in central Sudan surrounded by government forces, opened to regular relief flights. He further proposes the creation of "zones of tranquility" for humanitarian projects such as immunization campaigns, an end to the bombardment of civilians by shelling or aircraft, and an end to the abduction and enslavement of civilians. "The morality to me is very simple, and that is: end the suffering; end the killing; end the bombing; end the slave-taking; end the fighting," he says. "And, hopefully, build toward some sort of resolution, so that the four steps are more than just passing, but so that they lead to some sort of system where people can live together. That's what I'm after."

Mr. Danforth said a U.S. team including officials from the State and Defense Departments and the Agency for International Development will go to Sudan next week to gauge initial reaction to the proposals.

Mr. Danforth himself will visit several European countries next month to try to generate broader support for the U.S. initiative, before making his second trip to Sudan in early January.

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