- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

Sudan’s ‘new reality’

Sudan’s chief diplomat in Washington predicts that 2006 will be a year in which his government achieves a permanent peace with rebel groups and improves relations with the United States, which still includes the African nation on a list of countries that support terrorism.

In a New Year’s message, Ambassador Khidir Ahmed said Sudan is celebrating 50 years of independence and the end of a civil war that lasted more than 25 years. However, Africa specialists warn of continuing conflicts that could bring more violence, and the United Nations is worried about the status of peace negotiations that brought the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement into a national-unity government last year.

“As we enter 2006, the government is confident that these talks will produce positive results in the very near future,” Mr. Ahmed said.

He called on the United States to lift economic sanctions and upgrade diplomatic relations to the ambassadorial level. Mr. Ahmed, while given the title of ambassador by his own government, is recognized by the United States only as charge d’affaires.

“A new reality is being created in Sudan that should facilitate the normalization of bilateral relations with the U.S.,” he said. “The failure to acknowledge recent positive events and to normalize bilateral relations would prevent the U.S. from playing an important role in the development of a country that has significant importance to U.S. interests on many levels.”

Although U.S. officials say Sudan has been cooperating in the war on terrorism, it has not progressed enough to be removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

The United States condemned the Sudanese government for “genocide” in the western Darfur region, where Islamic militias have massacred tens of thousands of black African farmers in attempts to crush a rebel uprising. Smaller rebel groups are also active in the eastern part of the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week said, “In Darfur, security on the ground must urgently improve, and the search for a durable political peace, including a permanent cease-fire, must be intensified.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Wednesday

• A delegation from Germany with Christian Schmidt, deputy defense minister; Eckart von Klaeden, foreign-policy spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union coalition; Andreas Schockenhoff, deputy leader of the CDU/CSU coalition; Markus Meckle, former East German foreign minister in the democratic transition government; and Karsten Voigt, coordinator of U.S.-German relations in the Foreign Ministry. They attend a conference sponsored by the Trans-Atlantic German Society for Foreign Policy and the American Council on Germany.

• Eberhard Sandschneider, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, who holds a 2 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

• A delegation from Moldova with Nicolae Corlateanu, consultant to the Ministry of Reintegration; Stefan Gligor, consultant to the parliament; and Stela Jantuan of the parliament’s Information, Analysis and Prognosis Service. They brief invited guests of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Friday

• German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who meets with President Bush.

• Redouane Boudjemaa of Algeria’s El Youm newspaper, Hafez al-Bukari of the Yemeni Center for Polling and Communications Research, Rola Dashti of the Kuwait Economic Society, Neila Charchour Hachicha of Tunisia’s Liberal Party of the Mediterranean, Ali Saif Hassan of Yemen’s Political Development Forum and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, director of Egypt’s Ibn Khaldun Center. They discuss reforms in North Africa in a forum at the American Enterprise Institute.

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

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