[dehai-news] (Reuters): UN, US react cautiously to Sudan-rebel pact

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Feb 17 2009 - 16:51:05 EST

UN, US react cautiously to Sudan-rebel pact

Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:15pm GMT

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The United Nations and United States
reacted cautiously to an agreement between Sudan and a leading Darfur rebel
group on Tuesday, saying it could be a first step toward peace but needed
much more work.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations also said the deal signed in
Qatar's capital Doha did not change Washington's opposition to deferring any
indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the International
Criminal Court.

The accord between Khartoum and the Justice and Equality Movement commits
them to work toward an "early framework agreement" for a cessation of
hostilities, followed by talks to end the 6-year-old conflict in a maximum
of three months. It was not signed by any of Darfur's numerous other rebel

Summing up a U.N. Security Council closed debate on Darfur, Japanese
Ambassador Yukio Takasu said the council, chaired this month by Japan,
welcomed what he called a confidence-building agreement as a "step to the
right direction."

But he said challenges remained. "We really want to see that the fighting
and hostility must come to an end. We don't want to see talking while
fighting," he told reporters, adding that more groups must be brought into
the process.

Separately, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the accord was a
"constructive step" but called for "comprehensive and inclusive talks."

"Until the parties renounce hostilities, the situation in Darfur cannot
improve," Ban said.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Washington remained "deeply concerned about
the ongoing genocide in Sudan." She called the Doha deal "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


Rice said she saw no linkage between the Doha pact and a decision expected
to be announced shortly by the Hague-based ICC on whether to indict Sudan's
Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur, as requested by the court's chief

"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," she said.

China, Russia and Arab and African states have been urging the Security
Council to use its power under Article 16 of the ICC statute to defer any
ICC arrest warrant for Bashir.

Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem called Tuesday "a great day for
the people of Sudan" with the signing of what he termed a "landmark
agreement" that would lead to the ending of the conflict in western Sudan
"once and for all."

Abdalhaleem said the deal had "defeated" the United States and dismissed as
"ironic indeed" Rice's comments on the ICC. "If the ICC is (so) rosy and
beautiful and lovable ... why did the U.S. not join the ICC? They want only
to use the ICC politically. They are just opportunists," he said.

Washington has refused to sign up to the ICC statute out of concern it could
be used against U.S. servicemen. (Editing by Bill Trott)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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