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US Scolds Sudan for Expulsion of 2 UN Officials

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir surveys a rally with Sufi supporters in Hajj Yusuf at Khartoum district, Dec. 27, 2014.

The United States said Tuesday that it deplored Sudan's ordered expulsion of two senior U.N. officials and called on Khartoum to reverse its decision.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the order was detrimental to Sudan's relations with the international community and the well-being of the Sudanese people.

"The United States will continue to press the government of Sudan to desist from actions that hinder the United Nations’ ability to meet its humanitarian and security objectives in Sudan," Rathke's statement said.

The two officials are resident coordinator Ali al-Zatari and Yvonne Helle, country director of the U.N. Development Program.

Sudan’s minister of information, Ahmed Bilal, said earlier that al-Zatari had made an “insulting announcement” to a Norwegian newspaper about Sudan.

The Sudan Media Center quoted al-Zatari as saying that the Sudanese "rely on humanitarian aid that we give them" and that he was "forced" to work with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Al-Zatari confirmed he had been interviewed by the newspaper, Bistandsaktuelt, but denied making remarks attributed to him.

Sudan's Foreign Ministry said Helle, a Dutch national, was expelled because she was "strongly prejudiced against the Sudanese government."

Bilal denied the expulsions were in retaliation for a U.N.-African Union investigation of alleged mass sexual violence at Tabit town, North Darfur, by the Sudanese army.

Some information for this report came from AFP.