U.S. releasing "comprehensive" strategy on Sudan: Obama

12:44, October 20, 2009      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday issued a statement, calling for "a definitive end" to conflict in Sudan, and pledged American engagement with the African country.

"For years, the people of Sudan have faced enormous and unacceptable hardship. The Genocide in Darfur has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and left millions more displaced," Obama said in a statement.

"We must seek a definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses and genocide in Darfur. ... the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South in Sudan must be implemented to create the possibility of long-term peace. These two goals must both be pursued simultaneously with urgency," he said.

Obama also warned to renew the declaration of a National Emergency with respect to Sudan, which will continue tough sanctions against Sudan.

"If the government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace, there will be incentives, if it does not, then there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the international community," Obama said.

Also on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was willing to engage with Sudan and to offer the African country incentives if changes in the country were verifiable.

Releasing a new U.S. strategy on Sudan, Clinton pledged to have "broad engagement" with Sudan on condition that Khartoum keeps its peace promises.

"We have a menu of incentives and disincentives," Clinton told reporters. "Assessment of progress and decisions regarding incentives and disincentives will be based on verifiable changes in conditions on the ground."

The top U.S. diplomat did not specify possible punitive measures against Sudan's government.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 to end a two-decade-old war between northern and southern Sudan, stipulates a referendum in the south in 2011 to decide whether an independent state would be set up in the currently semi-autonomous region.

However, the two peace partners, namely the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), have not ironed out their differences on the referendum.

The SPLM accused the NCP of being involved in the tribal violence in southern Sudan, but the NCP denied the claim.

In February 2003, infighting in the Darfur region flared up after rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government, accusing it of marginalizing the arid region. A humanitarian crisis emerged in the western Sudanese region after years of conflict.

Western powers, particularly the United States, have been ratcheting up pressure and imposed sanctions on Khartoum over the Darfur issue.

In March, Obama named retired Major General Scott Gration as his special envoy to Sudan.

Source: Xinhua
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