- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NEW YORK - U.N. Security Council diplomats received an appeal by President Bush for tough U.N. sanctions against Sudan with skepticism yesterday, saying punitive action would require careful deliberation.

Mr. Bush expanded U.S. sanctions against Sudan and called on the Security Council to adopt additional measures in an attempt to pressure the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations-led peacekeeping force in the western region of Darfur.

The U.S. move extended to 31 the number of government-owned or -controlled companies that would be denied access to U.S. banks and companies and listed three government officials who would be under similar restraints. A rebel leader also was targeted.

“The people of Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it,” Mr. Bush said at the White House yesterday morning.

Security Council members Russia, China and South Africa have rejected stronger sanctions against Sudan. Indonesia and Qatar also are reluctant to impose tougher penalties.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in April requested more time from the Bush administration to give diplomacy a chance, yesterday declined to endorse the stronger U.S. measures.

“This is a decision of the U.S. government,” he told reporters yesterday morning. “And I hope the international community can work in a mutually reinforcing way to bring resolution to this matter as soon as possible.”

The Security Council has imposed an arms ban on rebels and government-aided militias and has forbidden overflights of the region. Travel sanctions have been imposed on Sudanese officials.

The council has indicated that it would consider expanding sanctions if the Sudanese government continues to reject an expanded international force, finance the Janjaweed and other violent militias, and refuse to negotiate with rebel groups.

A limited African Union force of 7,000 peacekeepers is in place. Efforts to deploy an expanded United Nations-African Union force with up to 23,000 troops and police is largely under the diplomatic stewardship of U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson and his African Union counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim.

“At this point, we seem to have a strategy,” said Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin. “The Security Council is working together with the secretary-general toward the goals you are aware of. There have been some positive developments so this kind of a thing, to my mind, would be a departure from the common strategy of the secretary-general and the Security Council.”

China, which diplomats say is working quietly and privately to persuade Sudanese President Omar Bashir to accept the expanded peacekeeping package, also rejected the Bush measures.

“Expanding sanctions can only make the problem more difficult to resolve,” Liu Guijin, China’s representative on African affairs, said in Beijing yesterday.

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