Former senator John Danforth will stay on as the Bush administration's special envoy for Sudan as the United States continues working to end the nearly two-decade-long civil war in the African country.
Mr. Danforth met President Bush Monday to review his eight-month tenure in the special envoy post and the State Department later issued a statement saying the administration will continue its efforts, along with other concerned parties for a "just and viable" peace in Sudan.
In particular, the statement promised active U.S. support for the Kenyan-led East African peace initiative on Sudan called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD.
It also said the United States will work with other key international players including Britain and Norway and with neighbors of Sudan, in particular Egypt, to seek an end to the conflict.
An estimated two million people have died in fighting in Sudan and related famine since the civil war broke out in 1983 and millions more have been uprooted.
The war pits the Islamic government in Khartoum against Christian and animist rebels in the south, though power struggles for power and competition for control of the country's oil resources have complicated the equation.
In a report to the president last month, Mr. Danforth called for a major diplomatic push to end the conflict while, among other things, opposing the political division of the country and calling on the government to share oil revenues with the rebels to help the impoverished south.
The U.S. envoy helped arrange a truce agreement in January covering the Nuba mountains region, a rebel stronghold where civilians had been largely cut off from relief supplies.
At a briefing here, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner said that despite a break-down of the cease-fire in February, the Khartoum government has basically adhered to the four-part agreement giving relief groups access to the area:
"The performance thus far on those four markers has been relatively good. It's been, in fact, quite good considering 18 years or 19 years of war. So we're reasonably optimistic," he said. "But indeed performance is what counts. And it will all be based on, not so much the talk-talk at the table, but the actions on the ground."
The written statement released here said the United States would hold both the government and the rebels of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement or SPLA "strictly accountable" for the implementation of agreements already made, especially the Nuba Mountains cease-fire.
In that regard, it said the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios will be leaving "shortly" for Sudan to review compliance by both sides and to evaluate humanitarian needs.
There were no new travel plans announced for Mr. Danforth, who went on missions to Sudan in November and January and has also held talks on the conflict in Europe.