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Powell Urges Sudan Peace Negotiators Toward Final Agreement - 2004-01-07


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has telephoned the top negotiators in the Sudan peace talks in Kenya to urge them on toward a final agreement. The negotiating teams led by Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and southern rebel leader John Garang concluded a landmark wealth-sharing pact on Wednesday.

Mr. Powell went to the talks in Kenya in October and secured an agreement from the two sides try to conclude a final deal by the end of last year. They didn't achieve that goal.

But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Secretary of State, in his calls to Vice President Taha and Mr. Garang expressed understanding for the delay, given the bitter 20-year history of the Sudan conflict. "We're still working to get it wrapped up very soon. And I'd say, you know, a few weeks into the new year isn't bad, if you're dealing with a conflict that's gone on so long, and so horribly for so many years. To see it resolved is more important than to see it resolved by a particular date," he said.

Wednesday's agreement on sharing Sudan's oil wealth leaves unresolved issues of power sharing and status of three contested regions in central Sudan. Mr. Boucher said Kenyan mediators and U.S. diplomats are involved in trying to bridge remaining differences.