- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

No snub in Sudan

A top U.S. diplomat said yesterday that she accomplished her mission on a recent visit to Sudan, despite press reports that suggested the Sudanese president snubbed her by keeping her waiting for an appointment for several days.

News dispatches on the visit last month by Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, also said she failed to persuade the president, Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir, to allow peacekeepers from the United Nations to replace a force from the African Union that is trying to monitor a fragile cease-fire in the Darfur region, where the government has been accused of genocide against black African villagers.

Miss Frazer told Embassy Row yesterday that the United States was never under the illusion that Gen. Bashir would allow the United Nations to replace the African peacekeepers, whose mandate expires on Sept. 30.

She said her mission was aimed more at demonstrating to members of the U.N. Security Council, especially China, that Washington was willing to consult with the Sudanese government before the United Nations imposes its peacekeepers on Sudan.

“The reporting was factually skewed,” Miss Frazer said.

News dispatches, picked up by Embassy Row last week, said Gen. Bashir at first refused to see Miss Frazer and decided only at the last minute to grant her an audience. She explained that she arrived on Aug. 26 and spent the next day in meetings with top government officials. Her meeting with Gen. Bashir originally was set for late in the afternoon on Aug. 28 but delayed until the next day because of his own scheduling problems, she said.

Miss Frazer held talks with Gen. Bashir at his home in what she described as a “cordial” meeting. She delivered a letter from President Bush, urging Gen. Bashir to recognize that the African Union troops were overburdened and needed to be supplemented by U.N. forces.

She explained that the Security Council does not need Gen. Bashir’s permission to deploy the peacekeepers. Of the 7,000 African forces currently in Sudan, about 5,000 have sufficient training to serve under U.N. command, Miss Frazer said.

The Security Council resolution authorizing the peacekeepers only “invites the consent,” not the approval, of the Sudanese government, she added.

“The Sudanese want an African force or forces from Muslim countries, and we said, ‘By all means,’” Miss Frazer said.

On another issue she raised with Gen. Bashir, the Sudanese leader promised to examine the case of an American journalist, Paul Salopek, who has been charged with espionage. He was arrested last month while on assignment for the Chicago Tribune and National Geographic.

Irish protest treat

Irish-American groups this week mounted a final effort to stop the Senate from ratifying a new extradition treaty with Britain, claiming the measure could be used to “target and intimidate” opponents of British rule in Northern Ireland.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow is due to consider the treaty, signed in 2003 to update provisions for the transfer of suspected terrorists and others accused of routine crime. Opponents argue that both American and British suspects have less protection because the treaty allows the secretary of state or the British government, instead of the courts in both countries, to make final decisions on extradition requests.

“This treaty is intended to target and intimidate Americans for past, present and future activity in opposition to British misrule in Ireland,” said Robert Linnon, president of the Irish American Unity Conference.

His group joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society, Irish Northern Aid, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and the American Civil Liberties Union in denouncing the treaty.

In Senate testimony in July, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty defended the treaty as a “modern” document with full civil liberties protection and similar to those with France, Hungary and India.

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

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