U.S. President George Bush says the United Nations should keep working
with the Sudanese government to get more African Union peacekeepers
into the troubled Darfur region, despite Monday's arrest warrant for
Sudan's president from the International Criminal Court. VOA White
House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
has long criticized Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for permitting
many of the same human rights abuses included in his ICC indictment.
the United States is not part of that court and has long questioned its
jurisdiction to prosecute government officials or military personnel
serving as peacekeepers.
Asked about President Bashir's
indictment, President Bush told a White House news conference that the
court's action should not affect ongoing negotiations with Khartoum to
get more African Union troops into Darfur.
"My thought on Sudan
is that the United Nations needs to work with this current government
to get those troops in to help save lives," he said.
Bush says it is a very difficult and unacceptable situation in Sudan
where violence between rebels, local militia, and government troops has
led to the deaths of some 300,000 people since 2003. More than two
million people have been displaced by the fighting in Darfur.
of a joint United Nations - African Union peacekeeping force has been
slowed by resistance from Khartoum and a lack of equipment. So far,
only 9,000 police and soldiers are on the ground out of the
26,000 troops planned.
Aid officials are concerned that
President Bashir's indictment could further slow that deployment and
worsen the humanitarian situation in Darfur.
The U.S. State
Department says Washington makes its own decisions about prosecuting
war crimes and is in no way bound by ICC actions since President Bush
refused to sign on to the court six years ago.
says he will keep working with President Bashir, along with all the
other parties concerned, to end the violence in Darfur.
trying to work with the rebel groups so that they speak more with one
voice," he said. "We are trying to work with Bashir to make sure that
he understands there will be continued sanctions if he doesn't move
forward. We are trying to help get these AU troops throughout Africa
into Sudan. We are working with the French on the issue of Chad."
Chad and Sudan have both accused each other of trying to destabilize their governments.
Bush says he talked about Sudan with heads of state from the Group of
Eight leading industrial nations in Japan last week. During the G8
summit, Mr. Bush discussed Darfur with U.N. Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, and the current chairman of the African Union, Tanzanian
President Jakaya Kikwete.
Tanzania's Foreign Ministry Tuesday
said President Bashir's indictment will have serious negative
consequences on peace efforts and will complicate security on the