Sudan may demand an apology from US over remarks by its top Africa diplomat

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By: Wasil Ali

June 21, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese government today said that it may demand an apology from the US government over what it described as “undiplomatic” and “unrespectful” remarks made by a top US diplomat.

The US Assistant Secretary of State Jendai Frazer was quoted on Monday as saying that the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has made promises before with no actions.

Frazer added that sanctions will remain an option until Khartoum fulfils its obligations and facilitate the deployment if UN-AU hybrid force in Darfur.

An unidentified Sudanese government official told the daily Al-Rayaam newspaper that an evaluation of Frazer’s statements is underway and may lead to a formal protest and a demand for apology from Washington.

The Sudanese envoy in Washington John Ukec blasted Frazer’s remarks and accused the US of promoting “war and instability in Sudan”. Ukec added that statements by US representative in the UN Zalmay Khalilzad in which he expressed his government’s support for a united Sudan are “nothing but a lie”.

Khartoum has recently escalated its rhetoric against Washington after the latter expressed scepticism on the latest deal signed to allow UN forces into Darfur. The US believes that given Khartoum’s history of reneging on its agreements makes it hard to take their word for granted.

The Sudanese president accused the US on Monday of being the “cause of all Sudan’s problems”. Bashir dismissed the impact of US sanctions saying that “every time they impose sanctions on us we laugh because we are not crazy; we believe that prosperity comes from god”.

A political analyst speaking to Sudan Tribune from Khartoum on condition of anonymity said that the Sudanese government was hoping for a swift lifting of sanctions by the US following its agreement to a UN-AU hybrid force. He added that statements by the US on the importance of implementing the agreement before lifting sanctions have deeply disappointed Khartoum.

U.S. President George W. Bush imposed new unilateral sanctions on Sudan during late May and sought support for an international arms embargo out of frustration at Sudan’s refusal to end what he called genocide in war-ravaged Darfur. Bush announced new sanctions that would bar 31 companies controlled by Sudan from doing business in the U.S. financial system.

Sudanese officials have constantly downplayed the impact of the recent US sanctions imposed on their economy.

However the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who visited Khartoum earlier this month said that the Sudanese president raised the issue of US sanctions during their closed meeting. Kouchner said that the Sudanese “seem clearly affected by this issue, considering how much they raised it.”

At least 200,000 people have died in the western region and more than two million more fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels rose up three years ago drawing a scorched earth response from the military and allied militias

(ST)