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Bush Orders New US Sanctions on Sudan

The United States is imposing tough new sanctions on Sudan in an effort to end the bloodshed in its troubled Darfur region. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports President Bush is also calling for stronger international pressure on the Sudanese government.

President Bush says the genocide in Darfur must stop.

"For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians," he said.

In an unusual early morning appearance at the White House, the president announced a tightening of U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan. He said Americans will be barred from dealings with 31 companies with ties to the Sudanese government, including some involved in the country's growing oil business.

Mr. Bush said U.S. sanctions are also being imposed against certain individuals deemed responsible for the violence.

"These sanctions will isolate these persons by cutting them off from the U.S. financial system, barring them from doing business with any American citizen or company, and calling the world's attention to their crimes," said President Bush.

The president is imposing these sanctions by executive order. At the same time, he said the United States will work with its allies to draft a new U.N. Security Council resolution designed to increase international pressure on Sudan's leaders.

"It will impose an expanded embargo on arm sales to the government of Sudan," he said. "It will prohibit the Sudanese government from conducting any offensive military flights over Darfur. It will strengthen our ability to monitor and report any violations."

The announcement came roughly six weeks after the president warned the Sudanese government that its intransigence on Darfur could result in stiff penalties.

Mr. Bush had been expected to announce the enhanced sanctions last month in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. But he held off at the last minute, after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked for more time for diplomacy to work.

The secretary-general had hoped to convince the Sudanese government to allow international peacekeepers into Darfur, to bolster an overwhelmed all African force. Mr. Bush said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has taken a different course.

"President Bashir's actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation while finding new methods for obstruction," he said.

Sudan quickly condemned the actions ordered by President Bush, calling the sanctions unjustified. There was also a strong negative reaction from China - a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and a major consumer of Sudanese oil.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and more than two million more have been displaced since 2003, when rebels launched an uprising. Government-backed militias are accused of atrocities against civilians in battling the rebels. The United States labeled it "genocide" in 2004.