Sudanese Offer Rice Ugly Reception [That She Deserves]
East Bay Daily News 22jul2005
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's official visit with President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of Sudan yesterday turned ugly after Sudanese security officers man-handled members of her delegation and the news media.
Rice said she was "outraged" and demanded an official apology, which the foreign minister delivered by phone a little more than an hour later. But it was clear the incident left her angry and worsened an already difficult relationship.
"They had no right to manhandle my staff," she said afterward, adding, the Sudanese "still have a long way to go."
As James Wilkinson, her communications director, tried to join the meeting, security officers shoved him against a wall. "Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough up your guests," Wilkinson said afterward.
After Rice entered the meeting with Bashir, they sat in awkward silence for almost 10 minutes because Bashir speaks only Arabic and his security guards refused to admit Rice's interpreter.
When Rice, in her meeting with Bashir, asked him once again to disarm the government-backed militias responsible for most of the violence in Darfur, he replied, "If you disarm only one side in this conflict, the result is going to be genocide," said an aide to Rice who was at the meeting. The other side, as Bashir sees it, is the rebels who began the Darfur conflict two years ago.
After the meeting, U.S. and Sudanese reporters and photographers were allowed to enter the room to take pictures and observe. Bashir was telling Rice about the historical significance of his ancestral home when Andrea Mitchell of NBC News shouted a question to him: "Why should Americans believe your promises" regarding Darfur, when "your government is still supporting the militias?"
Two Sudanese security officers grabbed her from behind and dragged her from the room. Bashir did not respond to the question or otherwise comment. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail called just before she landed here to apologize for "the mistreatment of our delegation," an aide to Rice said. But when Rice stepped off the plane in El Fashir a few minutes later she was still not smiling. (NYT)
Rice Says Sudan has Credibility Problem on Darfur
ABU SHOUK / Reuters / Turkish Daily News 22jul2005
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Sudan's president on Thursday that his government had a credibility problem on the issue of Darfur and she wanted to see "actions not words."
In a meeting marred by scuffles involving Rice's aides and Sudanese security officials, Rice told President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to stop violence, especially against women, in the remote western region of his country.
"I said to the Sudanese government that they had a credibility problem with the international community...I have said; `actions not words'", Rice said in a round of interviews with journalists at a camp in Darfur for people driven from their homes.
A senior U.S. official traveling with Rice said the secretary of state had referred to Darfur as an impediment to improved relations.
"On Darfur, her message was this is the obstacle to normalization," the official, who did not want to be named, told journalists traveling with Rice. The United States last year said Khartoum was helping nomadic militia commit genocide against settled communities in Darfur.
Rice on Wednesday held out the possibility of sending an ambassador to Sudan for the first time since 1997, in a sign of improving ties after the installation of a new government on July 9, which included former rebels from the country's south.
The southern civil war, which lasted more than two decades, was ended by a peace deal earlier this year.
Rebels in Darfur took up arms against the government in early 2003, accusing Khartoum of marginalizing the arid province and discriminating against non-Arab settled communities in favor of Arab nomads.
The Darfur violence, which has abated this year, has driven some 2 million people from their homes and killed tens of thousands. Washington says Khartoum has supported militias who have killed and raped villagers and burned their homes.
"Welcome, welcome Condoleezza," sang scores of children who greeted Rice when she visited the northern Darfur Abo Shouk camp for the displaced. The United Nations says the camp is home to some 50,000.
Before arriving in Sudan early on Thursday morning, Rice said she would seek to strike a balance between helping consolidate the coalition peace government and holding Sudanese accountable for the violence in Darfur.
Rice said she was particularly concerned women were still being raped in the conflict.
The officials said Bashir's priority was for the United States to lift sanctions on Sudan, which Washington says is a state sponsor of terror. Sudan hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.
Under the southern peace deal, former southern rebel leader John Garang was made vice president in the new government. Rice told Bashir Washington supported the new government.
Garang assured Rice during a meeting that as a former rebel he understood the importance of bringing the Darfur rebels into the political process, said a U.S. official, who did not want to be named.
A 3,000-strong African Union force is monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Darfur.
Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was willing to allow as many African Union peacekeeping troops as was necessary into Darfur. Ismail did not put a limit on the troop level, officials said.
The violence has dropped off this year but Andrew Natsios, a top U.S. aid official traveling with Rice, said the dip was largely because most villages had already been razed.
He said he suspected the government was still giving material support to the militia, known as the Janjaweed. But he said the government no longer sent gunships to assist militia attacks.
The Sudanese government apologized to Rice over the manhandling of U.S. officials and journalists outside her talks with Bashir, a U.S. spokesman said. Rice had demanded an apology for the incident.
source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=18869 23jul2005
Sudan Blocks U.S. Media, Aides to Rice
Incident Mars Visit with President
GLENN KESSLER / Washington Post 22jul2005
KHARTOUM, Sudan — In a private meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Omar el-Bashir, Sudan's president, made a pitch for lifting sanctions against his country and removing it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
But outside the room, a storm was brewing.
El-Bashir's secret police, manning the palace entrance, had blocked many of Rice's key aides, and reporters accompanying her, from entering the building. When the tensions exploded in full view of Rice and el-Bashir during a photo opportunity, an infuriated Rice demanded an apology from the government.
The first indication of trouble came when Rice found herself seated next to el-Bashir, without her interpreter, for more than five minutes of awkward silence. The interpreter had been blocked at the gate, along with many of her aides, but finally was hustled in.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese security forces blocked American news media representatives from entering the building. They forcefully pushed the foreign journalists out of the way, permitting only Sudanese journalists to enter.
A senior adviser to Rice, Jim Wilkinson, fumed that "diplomacy 101 says don't rough your guests up" and demanded access for the American reporters.
Officials agreed to let the U.S. media in for television footage at the end of the meeting. Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed, head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, apologized, insisting, "This is not our policy."
Before letting them in, however, the Sudanese insisted the reporters understand that questions could not be directed to el-Bashir.
"There is a free press," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"This is not a free press," a Sudanese official replied.
When NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell tried to ask el-Bashir about his alleged involvement in the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, the security forces pounced. The guards tried to drag Mitchell away, with Wilkinson shouting, "Get your hands off her!" Then they hustled all of the reporters out.
Later, Rice said she was furious about the incident.
"It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen," she told reporters as her plane was taking off for Darfur. "They have no right to push and shove."
An hour later, as her plane was landing, Sudan's foreign minister was on the phone, telling Rice he was sorry.
Earlier Thursday, Rice said she had obtained a commitment from senior Sudanese officials, including the president, to implement a plan to halt sexual attacks against women.
The plan, which calls for a public campaign against violence and the prosecution of rapists, was proposed by Rice's deputy, Robert Zoellick, who presented it to the Khartoum government during a visit two weeks ago.
The Sudanese government has a history of failing to meet commitments, and U.S. officials expressed skepticism that Khartoum would abide by its promise without strong international pressure. Rice said she told Sudanese officials they had a significant credibility gap and needed to demonstrate they had turned a corner.
"The Khartoum government has promised it is going to speak out about it, that it's going to recognize the problem. We will see," Rice said, adding that she told the Sudanese the U.S. government wanted to see "actions, not words."
Meanwhile, Rice gave no assurance that the United States would push to lift economic sanctions or remove the nation from the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0507220160jul22,1,6705320.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed 23jul2005
Sudan Apologizes After Rice Aides are Manhandled
Events May Hurt Bid to End US Sanctions
ANNE GEARAN / AP 22jul2005
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese security officers roughed up members of Condoleezza Rice's entourage yesterday and spoiled the African nation's hopes of showing off a new peace deal and improving a bruised reputation with the United States.
The secretary of state gave Sudan's foreign minister a 90-minute deadline to make a personal apology, and he met it.
Sudan got no promise from Rice that the United States would push to lift economic sanctions or remove the nation from the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
Rice also visited a vast refugee camp in the western Darfur region, site of mass killings and the eviction of villagers by armed groups that the United States contends were government-backed Arab militias.
She held a private session with female refugees, some of them rape victims, who say they face threats of violence when they leave the camp to find food or fuel, despite international pressure on Sudan to stop attacks on women.
Rice had the delicate task of encouraging the new unified government, which emerged after two decades of civil war, while still holding Sudan's leaders responsible for the newer conflict and refugee crisis in Darfur.
Sudan's president, Omar el-Bashir, retained his post in the new government, and Rice agreed to see him at his ultra-secure walled compound in Darfur. Problems began when guards held up part of Rice's motorcade, stranding her Arabic-language translator, aides, and reporters at the gate.
When the officials were finally allowed through, some found themselves barred from entering the building for the meeting. As Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson tried to get in, guards repeatedly jostled him, and he was shoved into a wall.
''Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough your guests up," Wilkinson said afterward.
Reporters were also harassed and elbowed. ''It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen," Rice told reporters afterward. ''They have no right to push and shove."
Sudan has long sought better relations with Washington. The last US ambassador was pulled from Khartoum during the Clinton administration.
Later, at the sprawling Abu Shouk refugee camp, Rice said the Sudan government has a plan to stop attacks on women and she will insist it be followed
source: http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2005/07/22/sudan_apologizes_after_rice_aides_are_manhandled?mode=PF 23jul2005