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Bush: Pressing for international force in Darfur

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Earlier this month, I got an e-mail from a UN aid worker in Chad who is working with refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who fled to Chad to escape violence at home. I met Matthew Conway on a visit to a refugee camp along the desolate Chad-Sudan border in early September. The dismal situation is getting worse. ``We regret to report that the security situation throughout eastern Chad remains extremely precarious, forcing (UN workers) and partners to move in escorted convoys to many of the refugee camps,'' Conway wrote.

There is an ad campaign running in the U.S. aimed against President Bush, creating the impression the White House is not doing anything on Darfur. While there is always more that can be done, the Bush White House is engaged in trying to pull together a ``credible'' international force to send to Sudan.

Today, Tuesday, the president met with Andrew Natsios, the former USAID chief he tapped as special envoy to Sudan. It's clear that this is a situation the U.S. alone cannot influence. After the meeting, Bush talked once again about the need to have international partners in order to get a military force in the region. The Sudan government is resisting UN intervention and just kicked out the UN envoy in Khartoum.

``The United States is going to work with the international community to come up with a single plan on how to address this issue and save lives. And Andrew is going to work with other partners in peace, and they'll take that plan to the current government of Sudan,'' Bush said.

this from the White House...


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release October 31, 2006




The Oval Office

9:26 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: I just had a meeting with the presidential Special Envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios. I asked Andrew to serve our country and really serve the cause of humanity by taking on this important assignment. He's working very closely with Secretary Rice. He brought -- he was just there for 10 days, he came back with a grim report about the human condition of a lot of people who suffer. And, you know, Andrew -- the good thing about Andrew is -- one thing, he puts a report out there, but he also understands we've got to do something about it.

And the United States is going to work with the international community to come up with a single plan on how to address this issue and save lives. And Andrew is going to work with other partners in peace, and they'll take that plan to the current government of Sudan.

One element of the plan is something that I strongly supported all along, and that there needs to be a credible and effective international force to go into Darfur to save lives, to make it clear that the international community respects human life, and the international community will work in concert to save human life.

Andrew, I want to thank you for taking on this assignment. The situation in Darfur is on our minds. The people who have suffered there need to know that the United States will work with others to help solve the problem. And the government of Sudan must understand that we're serious -- when you deliver a message to them, on behalf of our government, that we're earnest and serious about their necessity to step up and work with the international community. So thank you, Andrew, for that.

Today, as well, we have news out of the Far East. There is an agreement to restart the six-party talks concerning North Korea. I'm pleased, and I want to thank the Chinese for encouraging the meeting that got the agreement to get the six-party talks restarted. I've always felt like it is important for the United States to be at the table with other partners when it comes time to addressing this important issue.

And so I thank not only the Chinese, but the South Koreans, the Japanese, and the Russians for agreeing to come back to the table with North Korea. We'll be sending teams to the region to work with our partners to make sure that the current United Nations Security Council resolution is enforced, but also to make sure that the talks are effective; that we achieve the results we want, which is a North Korea that abandons their nuclear weapons programs, and/or nuclear weapons, in a verifiable fashion in return for a better way forward for her people.

And so I'm very pleased with the progress being made in the Far East. Obviously, we've still got a lot of work to do. But I want to thank the Secretary for her good work when she went out to the region, and assure the American people we'll continue to work to resolve this in a peaceful way.

Thank you.

END 9:30 A.M. EST


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 31, 2006 9:23 AM.

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