Secretary of State Colin Powell ended four-nation Middle East mission Saturday with talks on Iraq with Kuwaiti leaders. He appealed to the Sudanese government to heed Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution to rein-in Arab Janjaweed militias accused of ethnic cleansing that country's western Darfur region.
Mr. Powell pressed for the U.N. resolution with telephone appeals to fellow foreign ministers during his current overseas trip. And in a press appearance that ended his Kuwait visit, he made clear he is not taking Sudan's stated rejection of the U.N. measure as its last word on the subject.
The Secretary said authorities in Khartoum can say anything they wish to say about the resolution, which implicitly threatens Sudan with sanctions if there is not action to ease the situation in Darfur within 30 days. But he said the Security Council has spoken in a rather strong vote and the issue now is how to move forward and help the suffering people of Darfur.
"I hope the Sudanese government will use the time provided in the resolution to do everything it can to bring the Janjaweed under control," he said. "I hope the African Union will move forward aggressively as they have said they would in order to help these people and help restore a sense of security. We can have polemics about the resolution. But let's not forget the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are in need. They're the ones we need to be trying to help."
Mr. Powell paid a visit to Sudan, including a stop in Darfur, a month ago and urged authorities to act against the government-backed militiamen, who have displaced more than one million people in scorched-earth tactics against local rebels.
The Bush administration decided to table the Darfur resolution after Sudanese authorities failed to deliver on promises to Mr. Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to stop the Janjaweed and open the region to international relief workers and supplies.
The situation in Iraq was the focus of the Middle East portion of Mr. Powell's week-long overseas trip which also included stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and a ten-hour visit to Baghdad to meet leaders of Iraq's interim government.
He told reporters in Kuwait he appreciates Saudi Arabia's proposal for sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq from Muslim and Arab countries not bordering on Iraq, though he said more time is needed to study the initiative in depth.
Mr. Powell has said questions need to be answered about the role of the envisaged Islamic force and whether it would fall under the chain-of-command of the U.S.-led coalition. Saudi officials have said the idea would only be acceptable to public opinion in the Arab world to the extent that the Muslim troops would be seen has hastening the departure of U.S. forces.
Mr. Powell was followed to Kuwait Saturday by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi who was paying the first visit to the Gulf state by an Iraqi leader since Saddam Hussein invaded the neighboring country in 1990.