U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer says peace in Sudan remains at the top of President Bush?s African agenda. Ambassador Frazer spoke Wednesday in Washington during a discussion sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on how to move forward with implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. English to Africa Reporter James Butty was there and has this report. 

A month ago, the government of Sudan and the largest Darfur rebel faction signed a peace agreement in Abuja, Nigeria, raising hopes that the conflict in Darfur would come to an end. However, a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur has refused to sign the agreement.  Ambassador Frazer says the Abuja agreement has the potential to be beneficial for the people of Darfur who she says have suffered so much, and that the rebel groups who have not signed the agreement should seize the opportunity to do so.

?We are continuing to make this agreement as inclusive as possible, and we?ve urged the SPLM and others to also reach out to Abdul Wahid. But the agreement as it stands, the Darfur Peace Agreement, is not open to renegotiation. At the same time the African Union must move ahead quickly to implement the agreement as signed.?

Ambassador Frazer says the United States has been working with the African Union to set up a peace secretariat that will serve as the central point for implementing the agreement. She also says the United States has been focusing on strengthening the African Union Mission in Sudan to improve security on the ground. In addition, the US is pushing for a Chapter Seven resolution under the United Nations Security council, which allows the organization to decide what measures to take in situations involving threats to peace and belligerent acts, including using force to restore and maintain peace and security.

Also speaking during the discussion was Ibrahim Gambari, UN undersecretary-general for political affairs. He says the UN supports the Darfur Peace Agreement which he describes as a necessary first step to bring about peace in Sudan. But Ambassador Gambari says there?s no time to be complacent. He says the Sudan government and the rebels must adhere to the commitments they made when they signed the agreement.

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