- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The United States is stepping up efforts to revive the moribund peace process between north and south Sudan.

It is following recommendations delivered yesterday to President Bush from his special envoy for peace to the war-ravaged country.

As he briefed reporters after former Sen. John Danforth's meeting with President Bush, Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner said, "The next steps for the administration are focused on means for achieving a just and viable peace in Sudan, and we intend to actively support the efforts of the international community in doing that."

Andrew Natsios, U.S. Administrator for International Development, is scheduled to meet with top officials in Khartoum this week to discuss a temporary cease-fire in the Western Upper Nile province, the area where in February Sudanese bombers attacked civilians on their way to pick up sacks of food provided by the United Nations.

Sudan has said it is prepared to negotiate ceasefire arrangements without preconditions with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

Senior State Department negotiator Jeff Millington is scheduled to leave for Khartoum for talks with the government on following through commitments made in March to allow 20 to 25 Americans to investigate attacks on civilian targets.

Mr. Kansteiner is scheduled to meet today with Lazarus Sumbeiywo, the Kenyan military's chief of staff, to discuss next steps in the regional peace process started in 1995 under the International Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a group of East African nations that Kenya oversees.

One State Department official said the United States hopes to see substantial peace negotiations by the end of the calendar year through the IGAD negotiations structure.

Mr. Danforth said in his recommendations that the positions of the SPLA the largest southern rebel group and the Sudanese government should be left up to the parties without U.S. interference, but he also cautioned against a two-state solution to the 19-year-old conflict that has killed nearly 2 million people.

"A more feasible and, I think, preferable view of self-determination would ensure the right of the people of southern Sudan to live under a government that respects their religion and culture," Mr. Danforth said in his report.

With all of the new American initiatives, U.S. officials said they have stationed more Foreign Service officers to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The State Department is expected to name a full-time chief of mission for the embassy in the coming weeks.

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