Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon everyone. I just want to comment briefly on the discussion we are having this morning in the Council on Sudan and South Sudan. We received a very detailed briefing from former President Thabo Mbeki of the African Union High-Level Panel, and, of course, he was joined by Special Envoy Haile Menkerios.
From the United States’ point of view, we certainly appreciated the detail and the substance that that briefing provided, and we’re especially grateful to Thabo Mbeki and the high-level panel as well as to Mr. Menkerios for their very energetic and tireless efforts to move the parties towards some important incremental progress.
We certainly—the United States—welcome the steps that have been take of late in the immediate aftermath of the August 2nd deadline imposed by Resolution 2046. The fact that there is now an agreement, it seems, on oil revenue is an important and encouraging step, and indeed the parallel agreements that both the SPLM-North and the government in Khartoum appear to have struck with the tripartite mechanism for humanitarian access in the Two Areas is also encouraging.
But as we have seen in the past, it is vitally important that all such agreements be fully and faithfully implemented. And with respect to the Two Areas and the humanitarian situation, there is great urgency that we attach to this given the gravity of the humanitarian situation and its rapid deterioration.
But having said that, there are many outstanding issues, including those in the African Union Roadmap and Resolution 2046, that remain unresolved, unaddressed, unimplemented. And it’s certainly our strong view that building on the progress of these two important steps that I just described, it is vitally important for the two parties to complete implementation of Resolution 2046. As I’ve often said in the Council, it is not a Chinese menu from which the parties can pick and choose, it is an entire multi-course meal that they are both obliged to eat together.
So we are we’re very much encouraging the two sides to continue, to return to the negotiating table, to resolve the remaining issues, remaining mindful of the fact that this Council has been very clear in underscoring its intention to consider additional measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter if there is not full implementation of those agreements that have been reached or if, in fact, the remaining issues are not addressed successfully at the negotiating table.
I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: So just one question on Sudan. South Sudan said they agreed to a deal under pressure from international powers. They didn’t say which countries. Do you have the impression that this is a workable accord that will be carried out? And is there a new deadline then for when you will consider further measures?
Ambassador Rice: We believe it needs to be a workable agreement that both sides carry out because it is in their interests that they do so. And I think that certainly we have been encouraged by the constructive decisions that both sides have taken—but of course the Republic of South Sudan in particular—on the oil revenue-sharing agreement that followed very constructive discussions that Secretary Clinton had in Juba, and we have supported and commended the decision to reach an agreement, which will benefit the people of South Sudan as well as the people of Sudan.
I’m not going to get in the business of predicting the likelihood of full compliance. I think the reality is we have seen agreements in the past that have been signed on paper and never implemented on the ground, and we could talk about several of those. In this instance, however, given that the two parties must understand that the African Union and the United Nations Security Council are dead serious about implementation of their decisions and resolutions; that, in the case of the Security Council, we’ve made very clear under Chapter VII that these are binding obligations and failure to comply could well result in consequences from this Council on either or both parties; but most importantly, as I said at the outset, these are decisions that are taken in the interests of both sides, and, for this reason, I think there is reason to be hopeful that they will be implemented.
Ambassador Rice: Let me answer Joe—Tim I didn’t mean to skip that question and Joe asked. Is there a new deadline? No, the deadline was August 2nd. However, I think it’s clear that the purpose of the deadline is not for its own sake. It is to spur the parties towards resolving comprehensively the key issues that need to be resolved. We will await a report from the Secretary General, which is due September 2nd, and of course we’ll want to hear again from the High-Level Panel and Mr. Mbeki on the progress the parties are making. There clearly are issues—critical issues—like the security along the border, demilitarization, the disputed areas, Abyei that remain unresolved. And we are looking to the two parties to resolve those issues in very short order, and we’ll be ready to respond to their actions.
Reporter: How long will the Council wait (inaudible)?
Ambassador Rice: I think it’s quite clear that the Council attaches great urgency to this, as does the High-Level Panel. Nobody is expecting this to draw itself out over a period of months without a response from the Council. No, quite the contrary. But we’re also realistic. The aim is to get the issues resolved. It is not, as I said, a deadline for its own sake. But we are very clear that the two parties have to move quickly. This Council is reviewing the issue, as you know, every two weeks. The African Union is very much focused on the urgency of this, and together we intend to hold the parties feet to the fire.
Reporter: Madame Ambassador in a week from today—on the 16th—the Council will meet to decide whether to renew UNSMIS or not. The violence is increasing; the heavy weaponry used by the Syrian government is out there for all to see. All indications—and correct me if I’m wrong—seem to point that it will not be renewed. What would the United States like to see instead of UNSMIS ideally since now the writing is on the wall that UNSMIS will not be renewed?
Ambassador Rice: We certainly agree that based on the developments to date, it is hard to envision that the conditions set forth in Resolution 2059 for the continuation of UNSMIS could possibly be met in the time that remains. Having said that, we await the thoughts and recommendations of the Secretary-General. We think that, as we’ve said repeatedly, the conditions, particularly the extreme use of violence and heavy weapons by the government, do not permit the UNSMIS monitors—or any monitors at this point who are unarmed—to do the job they were sent to do. There is no ceasefire or cessation of violence for them to observe and report on. They are hunkered down and have been for many, many weeks. So our view is that that portion of UN activity is not able to function as the Council had hoped when it was authorized. So that will not continue as far as we’re concerned. We would certainly be willing to entertain other conceptions of a UN presence. There will be a country team. There will be a humanitarian presence. Perhaps there will be recommendations that will be more political in nature that we can consider favorably.
Reporter: How does the United States see the role of the successor to Kofi Annan? Do you think that the successor should have the same sort of weight or stature that Mr. Annan had in keeping the UN political operation very high profile and fully engaged or do you think it should be something that takes a little bit less of a front line (inaudible)?
Ambassador Rice: I think there are different models for what an envoy might look like, what kind of background, what kind of role. We are open-minded about that. I think we have to be realistic that it is a very difficult job, and Kofi Annan did it admirably and found himself understandably frustrated at the end. I think we look to the Secretary-General and, of course, the Arab League to give their best recommendations and thought to who might be an appropriate replacement, and we will wait for them to come to us with their thoughts on who that is.
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