- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The United States yesterday circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Sudan’s failure to ease the humanitarian crisis in its Darfur region and imposing sanctions on government-backed militias accused of killing thousands of people.

No measures were proposed, however, against government officials, which would make the resolution more difficult to pass, diplomats said.

In Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, officials pledged new measures to stop hostilities and improve the humanitarian situation. The announcement came soon after tough talk from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who visited Darfur.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said more government forces would be sent to the strife-torn region to provide security, ease restrictions on humanitarian groups and speed up negotiations with rebel groups.

“We will do our best to bring more police and more armed forces to that area. We will combat any militia or Janjaweed to protect civilians,” he said, referring to the Arab militias.

“We are going to enhance the speed of political negotiations. Hopefully, in a very short time, we will reach agreement with the rebels,” he said.

But U.S. officials expressed skepticism about Khartoum’s promises, some of which they said had been made before and not backed by action. One official said after Mr. Powell’s meetings with Sudanese leaders that they were in a “state of denial.”

“We are anxious to see an end to militarism out here,” Mr. Powell said. “We are anxious to see the Janjaweed brought under control and disarmed so people can leave the camps in safety and go back to their villages.”

The State Department said the U.N. draft resolution complemented Mr. Powell’s efforts on the ground to bring attention to the problem. It also said the text reflected his impressions and findings.

The document points out that more than “1 million persons are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance” and calls on the government to “cease all military attacks in Darfur, disarm and neutralize the Janjaweed militias.”

It imposes an arms embargo and travel restrictions against militia members and gives the Security Council 30 days to decide whether sanctions should be placed on “any other individuals or groups responsible for the commission of atrocities in Darfur.”

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States is still in the “preliminary stage” of discussing the draft with other council members, but, so far, it has received “constructive response.”

The Philippines’ U.N. Ambassador, Lauro Baja, the current Security Council president, said the resolution should send “a strong signal to the government” that it needs to take action.

The Arab militias are blamed for having killed more than 10,000 Africans since February 2003 in response to an anti-government rebellion. Khartoum insists both sides are equally responsible for the deaths and destruction.

Mr. Powell refrained yesterday from calling the killings “genocide,” because there is “no full accounting of all indicators that lead to a legal definition of genocide, in accordance with the terms of the genocidal treaties.”

“To spend a great deal of time arguing about the definition of what the situation is,” he said told the National Public Radio, “isn’t as important as identifying where the people are who are in need [and] getting the supplies they need to them.”

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