- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

President Bush yesterday delivered a strong rebuke of the Sudanese government — and backhanded criticism of the United Nations — over a lack of progress in halting the genocide in Darfur, and he promised sanctions if action is not taken.

“The status quo must not continue,” Mr. Bush said, threatening economic sanctions and a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would restrict arms sales to Sudan and limit the Sudanese government’s use of its own military.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also announced he would join with the United States in pushing for the Security Council resolution. He said talks on the resolution would begin today.

“We have waited and waited. We have tried diplomacy and negotiation again and again with the Sudanese government but they have to get the message — the international community will not allow the scandal that is Darfur to continue,” Mr. Blair said.

But China and Russia, which hold two of the five permanent seats on the 15-member Security Council and could each veto any action, yesterday both objected to Mr. Bush’s strong language and to the idea of further sanctions or a new resolution.

“We don’t think it’s the right time. It would be very strange,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. ambassador. “Why do we have to be so negative?”

Mr. Churkin cited Sudan’s agreement on Monday, after months of delay, to allow 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers into Sudan, to provide support for 7,000 African Union peacekeepers.

“After a long while, we have this kind of positive development in the dialogue between the U.N. and Khartoum and all of a sudden to come back with some sanctions would not be good,” Mr. Churkin said.

China’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Liu Zhenmin agreed.

“It is better not to move in that direction [of sanctions],” he said. “Agreement has been reached for the heavy package support. We have been informed that the deployment could be completed by the end of the year.”

But Mr. Bush said that the record of Sudanese President Omar Bashir’s government “has been to promise cooperation while finding new ways to subvert and obstruct the U.N.’s efforts to bring peace to his country.”

“The time for promises is over. President Bashir must act,” Mr. Bush said.

More than 200,000 people have been killed over the last two years, and more than 2 million displaced, Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush gave his speech at the National Holocaust Museum to a crowd that included Holocaust survivors, two days after the international day of Holocaust remembrance.

“You who have survived evil know that the only way to defeat it is to look it in the face and not back down. It is evil we’re now seeing in Sudan, and we’re not going to back down,” Mr. Bush said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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