- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 9, 2006

Sudan divestment

The ambassador of Sudan is appealing for an end to a grass-roots movement that is urging American pension funds and other investors to pull their money from foreign corporations that do business with a government accused of genocide.

Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed posted an “open letter” on the U.S. Newswire to urge a halt to the divestment campaign. He insisted that Sudan has begun a “new era” in which it has formed a unity government with the former rebels of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Front and is taking steps to end the violence in the Darfur region.

The U.S. Congress, among others, has denounced the Sudanese government for supporting Arab militias in a brutal campaign against black African farmers in the region.

“Sudan is not South Africa,” Mr. Khidir said, referring to the divestment campaign against the former apartheid regime. “Please recall that divestment did not cause the demise of apartheid. Economic and political realities in South Africa did.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System last week became the latest fund to announce a withdrawal of its investments in foreign companies in Sudan. The pension fund holds about $14 million worth of stock in those corporations. U.S. companies were banned from doing business in Sudan under the Clinton administration.

Congress, meanwhile, is considering a bill that would ban Sudanese officials accused of genocide from visiting the United States.

Mr. Khidir said divestment will undermine his government’s efforts to bring peace to Sudan and cripple any economic reform aimed at the country’s chronic poverty.

“Sudan is a poor country that, after over two decades of war, is entering a new era of peace and development,” Mr. Khidir wrote. “Disengagement will affect negatively the process to promote development by barring or hampering foreign investment that is vital to rebuilding the country.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Greek Tourism Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia, Greek Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Ovidiu Iuliu Marian of the Romanian National Tourism Authority, who participate in the Global Travel and Tourism Summit and meet administration officials.

• Gavin Neath, chairman of Britain’s Unilever UK; Marketa Evans of the University of Toronto; Leigh Halliwell of Plan Canada; Kebour Ghenna of Initiative Africa, a former president of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia; and Zahid Torres-Rahman of the London-based Business Action for Africa. They participate in a World Bank Institute forum on millennium development goals.

• Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi of China, who leads a delegation at a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

• Andrea Schulz, first secretary of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, who addresses the American Society of International Law and the Washington Foreign Law Society.

Tomorrow

• Sun Zhe of the Fudan University Center for American Studies in Shanghai, who addresses the American University School of International Service on U.S.-Chinese relations.

• Dr. Tjandra Yoga Aditama of Indonesia’s Persahabatan Hospital, who addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about the spread of bird flu.

Wednesday

• Z. Bekboyev, foreign investment counselor to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan, who participates in a forum on global security sponsored by Equity International Inc.

Thursday

• Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Center at Canada’s University of British Columbia, who addresses the National Press Club on world peace and global conflict.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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