South Sudan President Salva Kiir with Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The state of Sudan was partitioned after the South held a referendum on its future in January 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sudan: U.S. Incoming National Security Advisor Vows to Maintain Focus On Sudan
26 JUNE 2013
June 25, 2013, (WASHINGTON) - The United States ambassador at the United Nations Susan Rice vowed today to continue having north and south Sudan as priority in her new role as president Obama's National Security adviser .
Rice, who will assume her new post next week, said that improved relations with Khartoum is contingent upon the latter "meeting the most fundamental obligations to its own people".
The U.S. official also noted the suspension of an invitation extended to Sudan's presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie as announced last week by Washington.
"[W]hat we have seen tragically in Darfur and more recently in the Two Areas [Blue Nile & South Kordofan]--and now with Sudan's violation of the September 27th Agreement with South Sudan reflected in their decision to suspend oil flows, which are not meant to be suspended under the September 27th Agreement but only for technical reasons, not for political reasons--is discouraging and has certainly shaded our view of the timeliness of such an encounter [with Nafie]" Rice said in a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.
"We remain in communication with the leadership in Khartoum. We will continue to do so. But there are important steps that the United States feels ought to be taken to protect the people of Sudan, which is the responsibility of the government, and those have always been central to our interest in and ability to make meaningful progress in improving the relationship," she added.
The invitation by Washington to Nafie, who is also the ruling party's vice chairman, sparked outrage among lawmakers and activists alike.
But the U.S. administration defended the move saying while it is aware about Nafie's past, it needs to open lines of communication with senior government officials in Khartoum with the exception of those indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The invitation was revoked however, following Sudan's decision to shut down the pipelines that transport the oil produced in landlocked South Sudan to export terminals in Port Sudan for it to reach international markets.
Khartoum claimed that Juba continues to aid rebels who have recently stepped up their military offensive in South Kordofan, Darfur and even launched a daring attack on North Kordofan's second largest town of Um Rawaba.
The Sudanese government downplayed Washington's decision saying that they were not the ones who asked for the invitation.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since the 90's after Sudan was placed on the U.S. sanctions list in 1993 for harbouring "international terrorists". It has hosted prominent militants including Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal.
Then-president Bill Clinton imposed the embargo in 1997 over Sudan's alleged support for international terrorism, efforts to destabilize neighboring governments, and human rights violations.
Sudanese officials frequently voice frustration over what they say is U.S. backtracking on promises to lift sanctions despite cooperation on combating terrorism and allowing South Sudan to peacefully secede in July 2011.
But the U.S. asserts that conflicts in Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan have prevented any move to normalize ties.