FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Good afternoon. Good to see you all.
As you heard from the President of the Security Council, we spent the morning discussing UNAMID and the situation in Sudan. The United States remains deeply concerned about the ongoing genocide in Sudan and views UNAMID as a critical element of enhancing and providing effective protection for civilians on the ground in Darfur. We heard today that UNAMID has reached 64 percent of its authorized military strength; that’s obviously progress, but it’s far from sufficient.
The progress that’s been made to date is in part a credit to the tripartite efforts of the UN, the African Union and the Government of Sudan but obviously there remain significant impediments to the effectiveness of those 64 percent and a great deal of urgency to get to 100 percent fully effective, fully deployed. The United States has contributed its part to that effort and we will continue to look for opportunities to support UNAMID’s deployment. The cost-free air bridge that we provided to the Rwandan contingent lifting in their heavy equipment last month is indicative of the sort of support the United States feels that we and other member states need to provide to accelerate UNAMID deployment.
We certainly also welcome the efforts by the United Nations and the African Union mediator, Mr. Bassole; we are supportive of that and we note that the agreement of goodwill signed today in Doha is potentially a modest first step but it is not itself a cessation of hostilities or a ceasefire agreement and obviously all the rebel groups will need to be engaged if there is to be sustained process that can lead to an outcome of lasting peace. The United States would also welcome the engagement of appropriate civil society entities so that what is achieved—if it can be achieved—has the ability to endure.
That said I want to say a few words again of commendation to UNAMID for its bravery and steadfast efforts on the ground. In particular, we commend UNAMID for standing fast in Muhajariya, and we want to reiterate our extreme disappointment that the Security Council because of the actions of one member state was unable to speak with one voice in a balanced, clear condemnation both of the offensive actions of the JEM and the excessive aerial bombardments by the government of Sudan on the other hand. This left the Council unable at a crucial moment to express the support that UNAMID needs and deserves and to lend impetus to efforts to protect civilians wherever they may be at risk.
The United States believes that the Council needs to speak authoritatively, plainly, and honestly about what transpires on the ground and regrets that the actions of one member state made that impossible last week. We heard many other member states reiterate that regret today behind closed doors.
Reporter: Madam Ambassador, does the—in your U.S .view—the agreement such as it is with the JEM and the government have any relevance to the consideration of how to respond to a potential arrest warrant for Bashir and Article 16 resolution? Is there a linkage at all in your view?
Ambassador Rice: I see no linkage. The United States position has been and remains that we see no circumstances or other actions to date that would change our judgment at this point that an Article 16 deferral is unwarranted.
Reporter: (off mike) Peace process. There are many groups in Darfur who are not participating in the Doha talks. Are you going to encourage such groups to join in?
Ambassador Rice: The United States encourages all rebel groups and indeed, members of civil society, to join with the JEM and the government in constructive negotiations. We believe that absent all players being present we will not have the ability to achieve a sustainable outcome.
Reporter: (off mike) You have the Libyans blocking consensus last week. Are you concerned that Libya will play sort of a leadership role that will kind of obstruct U.S. efforts to try and apply pressure in the Council in the event that you face obstacles in Sudan?
Ambassador Rice: Well, we think that Libya has a responsibility as the Chairman of the African Union and as a member of the Security Council to join with the rest of the international community in supporting honest, fair, and balanced assessments of the situation, encouraging the parties to refrain from violence against civilians and indeed to reach a negotiated and comprehensive political settlement.
Libya in this instance was alone in the Security Council and certainly we would hope that its leadership would in the future be supportive of expressing the will of the entire international community to achieve a peaceful outcome and protection for civilians.
Thank you very much.
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