Thursday, April 19, 2007

China, Russia and South Africa Oppose United Nations Sanctions Against Sudan

News Article by AFP posted on April 18, 2007 at 16:09:08: EST (-5 GMT)

China, Russia, South Africa oppose UN sanctions on Sudan

UNITED NATIONS, April 18, 2007 (AFP) - China, Russia and South Africa on Wednesday voiced opposition to US and British plans to push for UN sanctions against Sudan at a time when Khartoum is cooperating with the United Nations on Darfur.

In Washington, US President George W. Bush bluntly warned that Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir had one "last chance" to help end violence in Darfur or face tougher US sanctions and other punishments.

Britain and the United States said they would begin talks in the Security Council Thursday on a new Sudan sanctions draft.

But Russia and China, two veto-wielding council members, along with South Africa made it clear that they oppose such a draft at this time.

"We don't think it's the right time. It would be very strange," Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

"Why do we have to be so negative?" he said "After a long while, we have this kind of positive development in the dialogue between the UN and Khartoum and all of a sudden to come back with some sanctions would not be good."

China's deputy UN Ambassador Liu Zhenmin concurred.

"It is better not to move in that direction (sanctions) ... Many parties are engaging the Sudanese government. Agreement has been reached for the heavy package support (deployment of UN 3,000 peacekeepers)," he said. "We have been informed that the deployment could be completed by the end of the year."

Monday Sudan agreed following months of delays to let 3,000 UN personnel plus helicopters into Darfur to support under-equipped African Union forces trying to stabilize the region.

The UN peacekeepers are to provide logistical, communications, intelligence and air support to 7,000 under-equipped AU troops that have failed to stem four years of bloody ethnic strife in the western Sudanese region.

"It is very surprising that they would be bringing up sanctions when Sudan has just made great improvements on the request of the UN for the heavy package (the deployment of 3,000 UN peacekeepers), has accepted (UN chief) Ban Ki-moon's offer to assist," South Africa's UN envoy Dumisani Kumalo told reporters.

"Bringing up sanctions now is very counterproductive. What's the point?" he added.

At the request of Ban, Britain and the United States had held off on introducing a sanctions draft as the United States, China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa pressed coordinated diplomatic efforts to persuade Khartoum to allow joint AU-UN peacekeeping in Darfur.

Sanctions under consideration include expanding a list of Sudanese officials found responsible for atrocities in Darfur that would be subjected to an assets freeze and a travel ban, extending the existing UN arms embargo in Darfur to the whole of Sudan or imposing a no-fly zone over Darfur.

In 2005, the Security Council approved a resolution that allowed for the seizure of assets and a travel ban against individuals who commit atrocities, impede the peace process in Darfur or "constitute a threat to stability" in the region.

It also extended an existing arms embargo against non-state parties in Darfur to the Sudanese government and specifically prohibited Khartoum from offensive military flights into the region, where an estimated 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million more displaced since 2003.

Meanwhile, The New York Times Wednesday cited a confidential UN report that said Sudan put UN markings on airplanes to fly weapons and bomb villages in strife-torn Darfur in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Reacting to the New York Times story, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said Ban "views with deep concern the evidence presented to members of the Security Council regarding the flying of arms and heavy weapons into Darfur in violation" of a Security Council resolution.

UN accuses Sudan over weapons

The Sudanese government has been accused of violating a UN arms embargo by flying weapons into Darfur in breach of UN Security Council resolutions.

A UN report says Sudan painted aircraft white to make them look like UN planes.

Sudan's envoy to the UN, Abdel Mahmood Abdel Haleem, said the allegations were "a lie" and that military assets were simply being moved around the country.

The US and the UK will later begin talks with other Security Council members on a new resolution on Darfur.

Abdel Mahmood Abdel Haleem told the BBC: "According to the comprehensive peace agreement signed [after the civil war in the South] between the Sudan government and the SPLM, we have to move our military assets and aircraft and all assets from the South to other regions in the country.

Phase 1 - UN financial backing for AU mission
Phase 2 - UN sends logistical and military support
Phase 3 - UN takes joint command of hybrid force
"We are moving these military assets to their respective places. We are not using these aircraft for any military function in Darfur."

But a New York Times journalist who has seen a leaked copy of the UN report says there is no doubt about the evidence.

"One thing is pictures that appeared with the report that we actually published in the New York Times today," Warren Hoge told the BBC World Service's World Today programme.

"There are very clear pictures of planes painted white, and also with the UN designation on the left-hand wing of one of the planes. And also a good deal of testimony from the investigators who compiled the report.

"It's the credibility of the United Nations versus the credibility of the Sudanese authorities - and I think on that basis the United Nations report looks pretty good."

The report was compiled by a five-person panel for the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Sudan.

US sanctions warning

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte ended his tour of Sudan and its neighbours on Wednesday, without meeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Negroponte visited Sudan, Libya, Chad and Mauritania, hoping to increase pressure on Sudan to let more UN peacekeepers into Darfur.

President George W Bush has said he wants tougher sanctions if Khartoum did not accept 20,000 UN peacekeepers being sent to the region, a move opposed by Russia and China.

Mr Bush said he was giving UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon one last chance to reach a diplomatic solution.

Sudan said earlier this week it would allow 3,000 UN troops into Darfur to support 7,000 African Union troops, but has not agreed to a much larger force.

The four-year Darfur conflict between rebels and pro-government Arab militia has seen more than 200,000 deaths and at least 2.4 million displaced.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/19 07:46:58 GMT

US says Sudan still has 'weeks' to avoid sanctions over Darfur

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2007 (AFP) - The United States is willing to give Sudan "weeks" to follow up on its promise to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur, but will quickly begin preparing a UN sanctions resolution for enactment if Khartoum fails to act, a senior US official said Wednesday.

Washington will launch an intensive diplomatic lobbying campaign on Thursday by dispatching a senior State Department official to South Africa, a current UN Security Council member which has come out in opposition to sanctions against Sudan, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

President George W. Bush earlier Wednesday said Washington was giving Sudanese leader Omar al-Beshir one "last chance" to live up to agreements to allow up to 20,000 UN-led troops into Darfur.

But McCormack clarified that the US had agreed to a request from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for additional time to test recent signs of Sudanese willingness to drop its objections to the deployment of the peacekeepers.

He said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had spoken with Ban Tuesday and again Wednesday on the matter.

"President Beshir does have some time" before facing sanctions, McCormack said.

"He has weeks in order to fully meet the commitments that he signed on to," he said, referring to an agreement signed by Sudan last year to allow well-armed UN-led troops into Darfur, where attacks by government-backed militia have left more than 200,000 people dead over the past four years.

"We are going to give Secretary General Ban some time to work with the Sudanese authorities as well as others in the hope that they will follow through on those commitments," he said.

At the same time, he said, US diplomats will begin a joint effort with Britain to prepare a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Sudan if Beshir backs away from his commitment on the peacekeeping force, he said.

Kristen Silverberg, the assistant secretary of state for international organizations, will begin the drive in South Africa on Thursday, he said.

"This is designed to send a clear message of the seriousness of our intent in doing our part to make the diplomacy work -- that it's going to require more than just us," he said.

"That kind of diplomatic interaction is going to be replicated all around the globe, with the thought in mind that we may well have to act on a Security Council resolution," he said.

South Africa's envoy to the United Nations joined his counterparts from China and Russia earlier Wednesday in voicing opposition to the sanctions move.

No comments: