- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2005

The Bush administration plans to spend almost $1.8 billion in reconstruction, development and humanitarian aid to Sudan in the next two years, despite the continuing violence in the country’s Darfur region, senior officials said yesterday.

Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick will pledge the first $900 million, which already has been appropriated, at a donors conference in Oslo next week, the officials said.

In addition, the administration has submitted to Congress supplemental legislation for more than $400 million and plans to request a similar amount in next year’s budget.

“There are no strings to the money,” a senior State Department official said, even though the United States is pressing the Sudanese government to quell the violence in Darfur and cooperate with international institutions.

The official, who asked not to be named, noted that “most of the money will be used to support the south” of Sudan and that “some of it will be used directly for the peace process implementation by setting up monitoring commissions.”

A comprehensive peace agreement between the Khartoum government and southern rebels signed in January ended the African country’s two-decade civil war.

“We are not going to let the south be deprived of the money it needs to begin reconstruction and development because of actions in Darfur,” the official said.

“But the south is only going to have a future in terms of the peace agreement if it’s implemented, and there will be problems in the implementation if the violence continues in Darfur,” he said.

However, he added, “Some countries have indicated that Darfur will be a consideration” in their pledges at the Oslo conference.

Last year, Washington said the acts of violence in Darfur amounted to genocide, but a U.N. commission refrained from such a categorization.

The official noted that the violence between government-supported Arab militias and rebels has diminished in general since January, but more attacks on humanitarian workers have been reported.

Other officials said most of the funds designated for Sudan are part of the budget of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department. They added that Congress is likely to approve the supplemental funding, because many of its members are deeply involved in the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee; Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican; Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat; and Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, are among those who have taken interest in Sudan.

Although most of the money will go to the southern part of the country, some of it will be used for humanitarian assistance in Darfur and in support of the African Union mission there, the senior official said.

Mr. Zoellick is expected to visit Khartoum and Darfur after the Oslo conference to draw more attention to the problem, the official said.

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