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US Submits Modified UN Resolution on Sudan Sanctions  - 2004-09-14

The United States has resubmitted a draft U.N. Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Sudan's oil industry. The re-write is designed to win broader backing for the measure, which drew strong opposition when it was circulated last week. But, the revised version retains tough language that prompted a veto threat from China.

The United States is pushing for quick action on a resolution that would pressure Sudan's government to protect civilians in the western Darfur region. U.S. Ambassador John Danforth says he wants a vote by the end of the week.

A revised draft given to council members Tuesday includes slightly softer wording in threatening penalties against Sudan's oil industry if the Khartoum government fails to stop atrocities against Darfur villagers.

China and Russia, both veto-wielding council members were among those expressing strong opposition to sanctions in an earlier draft last week.

But Ambassador Danforth says the sanctions threat will remain. "This one pretty well tracks the previous resolution with a few little changes," he said. "But it is essentially the same thing."

The draft also retains the order to Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish an international commission of inquiry into charges of genocide against Sudan's government.

China's ambassador, Wang Guangya, expressed hope Tuesday that a compromise could still be found. But he said China believes sanctions would be counterproductive.

"I think any use of the means of sanctions or the threat of sanctions is difficult for my government," he said. "There is a problem. We all agree. What the Council should do now is try to find a solution to help to ease the situation down there, not to create more problems."

Ambassador Wang said China also objects to formation of an international Commission of Inquiry, calling it an infringement on Sudan's sovereignty.

"I think there are problems there, because I think we all agree there is a sovereign Sudan and also there is a government which is not a failed government, they're still working, so I think it's better to let the government take action under some pressure from others, and not to put the government aside," he said.

China was joined by Russia and non-permanent council members, Algeria and Pakistan in expressing opposition to the original draft. European Union members Britain, France, Germany and Spain support the measure, along with Romania and Chile.

The United Nations says the 19-month conflict in Sudan has left more than 30,000 people dead and driven 1.2 million from their homes. The United States last week declared that genocide has occurred in Darfur, but no other country has gone that far.