Sudan expels diplomat
Sudan yesterday ordered a U.S. diplomat to leave the country after detaining him for meeting with opposition leaders whom the government accused of planning an armed uprising.
The expulsion order against political officer Glenn Warren is Sudan’s latest move in a growing diplomatic dispute with the United States.
Earlier this week, Sudan accused Susan Rice, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, of a “grave violation” of the country’s sovereignty by making an unauthorized visit to the south of Sudan to meet with women who said they were held as slaves and sexually abused.
Sudan said Mr. Warren was briefly detained Wednesday after he was “caught” with members of the National Democratic Alliance, which represents groups opposed to the military government.
The State Department denied Mr. Warren was acting improperly and said he met with alliance members to discuss the political situation surrounding the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled to begin Monday.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail, speaking in the capital, Khartoum, said, “The American diplomat was caught in a meeting with leaders of nonregistered political organizations and was discussing with them issues related to Sudanese security and stability.”
He claimed Mr. Warren’s action “was against his diplomatic mission.”
“The security authorities seized documents with the persons arrested, and they go in line with the current American policies that target the Sudanese government and seek to undermine it,” he added.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker told reporters in Washington that Mr. Warren was doing “what diplomats do.”
“We utterly reject the assertion that our diplomat did anything improper or inappropriate,” he said.
Mr. Reeker dismissed a report in a government newspaper that claimed Mr. Warren was “detained while participating in a sabotage scheme.”
“The articles in the Khartoum press suggesting that the meeting was somehow subversive are absolutely absurd and without foundation,” he said.
“The meeting involved nothing more than a discussion of the general political situation in Sudan. That’s what diplomats do.”
Mr. Reeker did not reveal what retaliation the United States may take against Sudan.
“The U.S. government is reviewing appropriate responses,” he said.
Mr. Warren was on temporary assignment in Sudan. The United States has run the U.S. Embassy with diplomats sent into the country for brief periods since withdrawing its ambassador in 1997.
The United States has imposed sanctions against Sudan, accusing it of sponsoring international terrorism, and two years ago bombed a pharmaceutical factory in the capital that was suspected of manufacturing nerve gas.
Mr. Ismail opened his diplomatic offensive against the United States on Tuesday in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he attacked Mrs. Rice for her visit there last month.
Mrs. Rice concluded that slavery still exists in the country and is condoned by the government, a charge Sudan strongly denies.
Her visit was a “gross violation” of Sudan’s sovereignty and was “calculated to cause offense.”
Mr. Ismail claimed that the United States is “committed to policies of hypocrisy and to action to impose its imperialist, blood-sucking agenda to the detriment of the world’s peoples.”
Hungary added to trip
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will stop in Hungary next week to visit the leaders of one of NATO’s newest members.
Mrs. Albright, now visiting Africa, will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi Tuesday and Wednesday on her way to a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
“Secretary Albright plans to discuss regional concerns, the upcoming NATO foreign ministers meeting and bilateral issues with Hungarian officials,” the State Department said in a statement.
Hungary “has made important contributions to the alliance” since joining NATO last year, the statement said.
“The economic relationship between our nations has strengthened with considerable U.S. investment in Hungary and increased bilateral trade,” it added.