US offers aid for Sudan peace

The United States has announced its willingness to make a significant pledge to an international donors' conference to spur Sudan's peace process.

    An accord calls for an autonomous south with its own army

    The United States will join with other donor countries in Norway for the meeting on Monday. Funds pledged will be used mostly for reconstruction and development of the devastated southern region of Sudan.

    Officials are worried that a January peace agreement designed to end a 21-year North-South war in Sudan could unravel without strong international backing.
      
    A proposal for sending 10,000 peacekeepers to monitor the agreement recently received UN Security Council approval.
      
    The State Department's second ranking official, Robert Zoellick, will represent the administration in Oslo. 

    Sudan visit 

    Khartoum signed a peace deal
    with southern rebels in January

    There he will meet Sudanese government and rebel leaders. Zoellick will then travel to Sudan to press officials in Khartoum to push hard for implementation of the January accord and also to pursue peace in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

    Zoellick will visit Darfur to show US concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy in the region.
      
    The North-South war claimed more than 2 million lives over two decades while in Darfur the toll since early 2003 is tens of thousands dead and more than two million uprooted from their homes. 

    Connected conflicts
      
    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the two situations, although geographically separated, are linked.
      
    "Progress on implementing the North-South accords, progress in getting in Sudan a government that unifies the nation, contributes to ending the violence in Darfur," he said.
      
    The deal between the Khartoum government and south-based rebels calls for an autonomous south with its own army, wealth sharing, religious freedom and a new constitution during a six-year interim period.
      
    As for Darfur, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said the abuses there qualified as genocide. 

    "Progress on implementing the North-South accords, progress in getting in Sudan a government that unifies the nation, contributes to ending the violence in Darfur"

    Richard Boucher,
    US State Department spokesman

    That assessment has not changed, but recent developments increase the possibility that some perpetrators will be punished.

    International Criminal Court prosecutors are preparing cases against 51 suspected war criminals.
      
    Boucher said the level of violence had declined recently, but he acknowledged that the region was still dangerous. 
       
    Since 2003, the United States has provided $1 billion in assistance related to the North-South conflict and $600 million for Darfur. Most of the funds have been for humanitarian relief. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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