Chairman Kerry, Ranking Member Lugar, Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the historic achievement symbolized by South Sudan’s independence and the opportunities and challenges ahead as Sudan and South Sudan seek to define their future relationship with each other and the international community.
I will discuss below the many tasks and challenges that lie ahead. But first we should recall that a fundamental objective of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was to provide the people of southern Sudan a choice whether to continue within one country or to separate. The people made that choice in January, voting for separation, and the independence of South Sudan was achieved July 9 without major conflict and with the recognition of the Government of Sudan. All those, in the Congress, among the many public organizations and advocates, the government entities and individuals over two administrations, all those who worked for this over many years should take pride and joy in this achievement.
I was in Juba last Saturday for South Sudan’s independence ceremony. It was a very moving occasion. As President Obama said in his statement recognizing South Sudan, the day reminded us “that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible.” Tens of thousands of people endured sweltering heat for hours to celebrate the birth of their new nation. Sudan was the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence. This was a historic achievement that represents a new beginning for the people of South Sudan as well as those of Sudan.
Mr. Chairman, this achievement was far from inevitable. Just a year ago, the peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was stalled. Many doubted whether it would be possible to have an on-time, peaceful referendum for Southern Sudan and whether the Government of Sudan would ever accept the results. A return to open conflict seemed very possible. During that time, President Obama committed to reenergizing the peace effort, and since then, we have intensified our diplomatic engagement with the CPA parties as well as our partners in the African Union, IGAD, Europe and the United Nations. The President himself, the Vice President and his entire national security team have been involved in this effort around the clock. We are grateful for the support that this committee and you in particular, Mr. Chairman, have given to this effort. We also appreciate the efforts that so many Americans have made to keep a spotlight on the situation in Sudan.
Over the last year, the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have demonstrated their capacity to work together on the major task of separation and to overcome great odds in their search for peaceful completion of the CPA. Nevertheless, this period has also been marked by armed clashes along the border, a crisis in Abyei, and fighting currently under way in the northern state of Southern Kordofan. Several critical issues regarding relations between the two states that were to be negotiated by July 9 have not been resolved. Thus the situation remains fraught with serious threats to peace. The two states must work to rekindle the spirit of cooperation that was so evident after the referendum of January 9 and which was promised again by the two leaders in the ceremony of July 9.
The CPA parties have made some progress in their negotiations over the past few months, but as I indicated above some of the most important issues namely oil, Abyei and citizenship remain unresolved. How these outstanding issues are managed over the near term will define the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. At the IGAD Summit on July 4, President Bashir and President Kiir committed to continue negotiations beyond July 9. We are urging the parties to quickly return to the negotiating table in the coming days and set a firm deadline for completing this unfinished business. The parties should work with the support of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to finalize mutually-beneficial arrangements, in particular, oil revenues, citizenship, Abyei, and their shared border. Allowing these issues to linger without resolution for too long could destabilize the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan.
Of particular importance is the contentious issue of Abyei. After months of rising tensions and a buildup of forces by both sides, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) forcefully took over the disputed area of Abyei in May. An estimated 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes. After weeks of intense negotiations, the parties signed an agreement on June 20 outlining temporary arrangements for Abyei, to include the establishment of a new UN peacekeeping force in Abyei and the redeployment of all Sudanese military forces from the area. Secretary of State Clinton met with the parties in Addis Ababa during these talks and played an important role in finalizing this deal. We then led efforts in the UN Security Council to quickly secure a resolution authorizing this new peacekeeping force, which will consist of up to 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers.
The violence that flared in Abyei cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace. It is critical that the parties move forward with genuinely implementing this agreement over the coming weeks as they continue to work toward a final arrangement on Abyei. The Ethiopian peacekeepers have begun deploying to Abyei. The SAF and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) must follow through with their commitment to withdraw their forces. Conditions must be put in place to allow those displaced from Abyei to voluntarily return home in safety and dignity as soon as possible. Enormous damage was done to homes and other structures in Abyei and much was looted during the SAF take-over. Considerable assistance will therefore be needed for those returning home. We are working closely with the Ethiopian peacekeeping force, the United Nations humanitarian agencies, and our own USAID to arrange support for a safe, voluntary return. At the same time, as part of their negotiations, the parties need to resolve Abyei’s final status. Negotiations on this matter were delayed by the SAF take-over of the area and the extensive negotiations for assuring the departure of military forces from there. This delay was costly. It will take weeks for the Ethiopian forces to be fully deployed and some time for the displaced to feel it safe to return.
Negotiations on the oil sector are equally important, but they must move on a quicker timetable. By the end of July, there has to be an understanding of how oil will be marketed and sold and to what extent the SPLM will provide some tapering off of reductions of income to the north. Agreement is made more difficult, however, because the SPLM does not want to make such a decision without final agreements on Abyei, the border, and perhaps some other issues. We are thus faced with conflicting timelines. In this situation, it is imperative that if there is no final resolution of oil revenue distribution, there must be an interim agreement by the end of July. Each side has claimed it is ready to shut down the oil flow if there is no agreement, positions that if acted upon would only hurt both sides and above all the people of all Sudan. Thus this issue demands action very soon.
Mr. Chairman, beyond their negotiations with each other, Sudan and South Sudan must also work to establish peace within their respective borders. Despite their separation, both countries have significant diversity and must decide how they will manage that diversity over the coming years. Most immediately, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, an area that is home to tens of thousands of SPLA fighters. The people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were promised in the CPA that their political interests would be addressed in a process of popular consultations. Unfortunately, those consultations have not occurred in Southern Kordofan. Tensions increased in Southern Kordofan following the state’s heavily-contested elections in May. The SPLM refused to accept the results of the election in which the sitting Governor was declared the winner. It was in this atmosphere that the Government of Sudan issued an order to the SAF to dissolve the Joint Integrated Units and forcibly disarm SPLA units that remained in the state. On June 5, intense fighting broke out between the SAF and SPLA forces in the state. To date, the fighting has continued, with the SAF carrying out aerial bombardments of SPLA areas. We are extremely concerned by credible allegations of targeted and ethnic-based killings and other gross human rights abuses. These abuses must end, an investigation must be conducted, and perpetrators must be held accountable. The UN estimates that 73,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, and critical access and resupply routes for humanitarian agencies have been blocked.
Negotiations over Southern Kordofan began in Ethiopia in late June under the auspices of the AUHIP. The Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North signed a framework agreement on June 28 outlining new political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. This agreement has the advantage of calling for addressing political issues at the same time as security ones, which is indispensable for reaching an agreement to cease hostilities and lay the groundwork for a longer term settlement. Unfortunately, President Bashir has raised problems with the framework agreement, which puts negotiations at risk. We continue to call on the parties to return to the negotiating table, to recognize the need to address both political and security issues, and to agree on a cessation of hostilities which would allow unfettered humanitarian access. Despite the opposition of Khartoum, we also continue to call on the Government of Sudan to accept a continued UN presence in the two states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to support a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access, and the establishment of new security arrangements. We believe, and we know that much of the international community agrees, that it is in their interest to do so. The Security Council has expressed its readiness to authorize continued UN operations if Khartoum consents.
Within Sudan, we also remain deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Clashes continue to occur in North and South Darfur between the Government of Sudan and an alliance of Darfur rebel groups, notably the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. The SAF continues to use aerial bombardments as well as proxy militias as part of its military strategy against the movements, thereby resulting in civilian casualties. Conflict and widespread insecurity impact the humanitarian situation negatively and hamper humanitarian organizations from carrying out their activities in the deep field. The GOS continues to obstruct access of UN-African Union peacekeepers and humanitarian organizations struggle to obtain visas and travel permits from the GoS, which undermine the effectiveness and independence of humanitarian efforts. We have consistently pressed the Government of Sudan to provide full and unfettered access for aid workers and peacekeepers, in order to deliver humanitarian assistance across Darfur. Our own humanitarian staff is only able to access Darfur with high level visits. Otherwise, operational access is simply not possible. Although there has been some limited IDP resettlement in West Darfur and a significant increase in seasonal IDP returns for cultivation, around 2 million Darfuris overall remain in IDP camps. Approximately 70,000 additional persons have been displaced since December 2010.
We have invested considerable efforts in pushing the Government of Sudan and the armed movements to commit to serious negotiations in Doha. Two of Darfur’s rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have participated in the Doha negotiations. The LJM may sign a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan this week; however LJM has little military strength on the ground. Negotiations between JEM and the Government of Sudan have been suspended since early May, and JEM is currently reconsidering its position on the results of the Doha process. We have emphasized to the Government of Sudan that an agreement with the LJM would be a positive step toward peace, but that it must continue to negotiate with the other armed movements. We also will be applying pressure on the non-negotiating armed movements to return to peace talks.
The position of the armed movements is also of concern. Several of them insist that they do not wish to negotiate on Darfur so much as on changes to the regime in Khartoum, and in some cases are determined to pursue that objective through fighting in and beyond Darfur. This position does not permit realistically peace talks with the Government of Sudan. We will also continue to encourage the non-negotiating armed movements to return to peace talks on Darfur. While the Doha process has now come to an end, other venues can be developed if talks are possible. In this regard, we are currently consulting with the AU, the UN and our international partners on a way forward after Doha that builds on progress achieved in Doha and leads to a more comprehensive settlement.
Any successful peace process must engage not only the armed movements, but also the people of Darfur. The UN and the AU have put forward the initiative of a Darfur Political Process, through which Darfuris would express their views on the way forward for a political settlement. However, we feel strongly that the current security and political environment would not lend itself to a credible or legitimate peace process in Darfur. For this reason, we will be coordinating with the AU and the UN on the necessary enabling conditions that we believe must be in place before the U.S. will support a Darfur-based process.
Mr. Chairman, Sudan needs to end its isolation in the international community and secure a more prosperous future for its people. It has a historic opportunity to do so with the completion of the CPA. Sudan faces an uncertain economic future as it adjusts to a significant loss of oil revenue and continues to shoulder nearly $38 billion of debt. Undoubtedly, Sudan is in need of debt relief, access to the resources of the International Financial Institutions, and a sustainable climate for private investment. Provided Sudan fulfills its obligations under the CPA, the United States is prepared to help.
We have laid out a roadmap to normalize our bilateral relations and taken initial steps in that direction. In February, following a successful referendum, the President began the process of reviewing Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Last month, the President dispatched Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan to Khartoum to discuss this review and to demonstrate our commitment to this process. Additionally, we have been actively involved in the World Bank technical working group to review the process for Sudan’s debt relief. We have also approved licenses for several American companies wishing to participate in agricultural development in the north.
However, we can only move forward with improved bilateral relations, as outlined in the roadmap, if the Government of Sudan fulfills its obligations under the CPA and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders and with its neighbors. A failure to reach a cessation of hostilities will negatively impact this process. U.S. government action to lift remaining U.S. economic sanctions and to request legislative assistance with the removal of applicable foreign assistance restrictions also will be dependent on Sudanese actions in Darfur. We will expect to see concrete actions on humanitarian access, freedom of movement for UNAMID peacekeepers, engagement in peace talks, an end to the use of proxy militias and targeting of civilians, and an improvement in justice and accountability so the reign of impunity in Darfur does not continue. This is not just the position of the United States. It is also the view of other members of the international community and international creditors.
Mr. Chairman, the Government of South Sudan will also depend on international support as it seeks to address its many challenges. South Sudan has some of the lowest development indicators in the world, and its people have high expectations that their lives will improve with independence. Many of its people also remain vulnerable to the activity of armed militias in the border states of Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile to the North, and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the state of Equatoria regions to the south. The United States has provided significant support for South Sudan over the years, and we will remain a steadfast partner as South Sudan seeks to peacefully meet these challenges. The strong ties between our peoples go back many decades, and we want to continue to build on that partnership.
Over 15 countries have offered capacity building assistance to the GOSS. Following the Troika development ministers’ visit in May, USAID is working closely with the AU, UN, ADB, EU, India, China, South Africa, Uganda and others to ensure that the ROSS has a viable human capital plan in place to build capacity for key functions in Juba and state governments. This builds upon the work USAID has done over the last 7 years in the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of South Sudan, health, education, and agriculture. USAID is working with partners to scale up to ensure that stop gap measure along with medium to long term capacities are being addressed. The United States, the UN, the UK, and other donors will focus on building a human rights culture throughout the GOSS, including the SPLA. All the donors will help in economic development. The United States plans in particular to make a major effort in agricultural production, which can help the vast majority of South Sudanese and for which there is much promise.
To succeed and to sustain international support, the Government of South Sudan must demonstrate its commitment to building an effective, democratic and inclusive government that embodies South Sudan’s diversity, respects human rights and delivers services with transparency and accountability. The eyes of the world will indeed be on South Sudan in the weeks and months ahead. The government must deliver on its commitment to a broad-based, inclusive process to write its permanent constitution. The government must also put in place safeguards to prevent corruption and avoid the pitfalls that have befallen many other oil-producing nations. President Kiir made a strong statement in his inaugural address on these very issues. The United States will work with other international partners to provide advice and support for the government to help him implement those pledges.
Mr. Chairman and other members of the committee, the challenges ahead are great, but the historic occasion last Saturday offers a new beginning for the people of South Sudan and Sudan. Now it is up to the leaders and people of South Sudan and Sudan to turn this moment of promise into lasting peace. We will continue to assist them in this hard work. Over the coming months, the Obama administration’s engagement will be unwavering, and we will be a steadfast partner to all those in Sudan and South Sudan who seek a better future of peace and prosperity.
I would like to thank Richard Solomon and the United States Institute for Peace for inviting me to speak today. It’s an honor to be here. My colleagues and I are avid readers of your reports and policy papers, and we greatly appreciate the regular opportunities to participate in the Institute’s many enriching seminars and conferences. You play a vital role in shaping the public’s interest in foreign policy and in keeping the international community focused on the most critical and important global issues. In Africa, the work the Institute has done on Sudan in recent years has complemented our efforts to support the negotiations, promote local conflict resolution, and bolster civil society. We hope you will continue your work on Sudan and South Sudan in the years ahead.
This afternoon I’d like to make some brief remarks about the opportunities and challenges facing the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. Today’s event comes at a critical time as we look ahead to the opportunities and challenges for Sudan and South Sudan. Independence presents a new opportunity for the people of South Sudan, an opportunity to build a new nation that embodies their values and aspirations. It also presents an opportunity for the people of Sudan to redefine their relationship with the international community and pursue a more prosperous future.
We want to see the people of Sudan and South Sudan seize those opportunities and succeed. But to do that, they must establish a stable and durable peace between their two states, and they must work to promote stability and development within their borders. This will not be easy and it will not happen overnight, but it is doable. The Sudanese have demonstrated their capacity over the last year to work together and overcome great odds. The United States is committed to being a steadfast partner as they continue to work out their remaining differences and build the peace and stability that all Sudanese people desire.
This past Saturday, I joined leaders from around the world in recognizing and celebrating South Sudan’s independence. It was one of the most moving occasions of my time as Assistant Secretary. In Juba, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese endured sweltering heat for hours to celebrate the birth of their new nation. The Government of South Sudan organized a day of pageantry and substance. The proclamation of independence was read. President Salva Kiir took the oath of office and unveiled a statue of John Garang. President Kiir spoke eloquently of the sacrifices endured by millions of Sudanese and the challenges South Sudan faces as the newest and one of the poorest states in the world. Sudanese President Bashir was in attendance and congratulated his hosts, and Sudan followed through on its pledge to be the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence.
It truly was a historic day for the people of South Sudan.
Just a year ago, last Saturday’s celebration appeared impossible. The peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had stalled. A return to open conflict seemed possible. Many analysts warned the Southern Sudan referendum was at high risk of delay or would be mired in bitter controversy. Little if any preparation was underway, and many observers doubted northern leaders would allow the referendum to proceed or would accept its results.
Recognizing that the CPA and the Southern Referendum were in serious peril, President Obama committed last year to reenergize the peace effort to make sure that the North and South Sudan did not return to a state of conflict. We intensified our diplomatic engagement with the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as our partners in the African Union, IGAD, the United Nations, the EU, and others. The President, the Vice President and the entire national security team were involved in this effort around the clock. The U.S. Special Envoys for Sudan, first Ambassador Scott Gration and then Ambassador Princeton Lyman, shuttled back and forth to the region, working with the parties to move the process forward. A number of Americans – acting individually and through civil society groups – also deserve a vote of thanks for keeping a spotlight on the situation in Sudan.
Against the odds, the people of Sudan and their leaders came together and organized an on-time referendum in January that was peaceful, credibly and reflected the will of the people. And despite moments of tension and crisis, they have worked together over the past months to enable a peaceful separation. For those of you that have followed Sudan’s history over the years, you know the significance of this achievement. But you also know that the situation remains fragile. Serious threats to peace and security remain, and great challenges lie ahead. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must continue to foster a spirit of cooperation as they work to resolve these threats and challenges. This is essential. Because even though they are now two separate countries, their peoples share historic, geographic, and economic ties. And they share common interests. The fate of Sudan and South Sudan are intertwined.
Challenges in the Relationship between South Sudan and Sudan
The challenges are formidable. South Sudan has achieved its independence, but it has not secured its future. First and foremost, Sudan and South Sudan must resolve outstanding issues between them. Over recent months, with the support of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the CPA parties have made progress in their negotiations. However, they failed to reach final resolution on several key issues before July 9. The recent fighting in Abyei and in the border state of Southern Kordofan has added additional complexities to the unresolved issues. President Bashir and President Kiir committed at the IGAD Summit on July 4 that they would continue negotiations on the outstanding issues after July 9. They must now turn those commitments into action. Both the parties must return to the negotiating table. They must work to resolve these issues in the shortest possible timeframe. Allowing these issues to linger without resolution for too long could destabilize the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and lead to tensions and potentially renewed conflict.
Abyei: Abyei remains a crucial issue for resolution. On May 20 the Sudanese Armed Forces invaded and occupied Abyei, following an unprovoked attack by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on a UN convoy escorting Sudanese armed forces. The North’s takeover of Abyei brought widespread looting and caused the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people.
The Obama Administration strongly condemned Khartoum’s actions in Abyei and worked with President Mbeki and his team and the UN Security Council to persuade the parties to reach an agreement on new security arrangements for Abyei that would lead to the withdrawal of Sudanese troops and the protection of Abyei by a neutral force. The parties agreed that a new UN peacekeeping force, consisting of roughly 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers, would be established to maintain security in Abyei, and that all Sudanese military forces would redeploy from the area. It is critical that the parties fully implement this agreement. The violence that flared in Abyei cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace. The parties must work with the AU Panel to reach agreement on the area’s future and final status. They also need to resolve the status of five other disputed areas along the border.
Oil: In addition to Abyei, the parties have not sorted out how they will handle oil assets and other financial transition arrangements. Oil and the revenue it generates are indispensable to the prosperity and welfare of all Sudanese – both North and South. Negotiations on oil are of particular urgency. By the end of July, there must be an understanding on how oil in the South will be marketed and sold and to what extent payments will be made to the North. The parties must reach an interim agreement to keep the oil flowing. We have strongly encouraged both parties to refrain from any unilateral actions that could destabilize the oil sector and cause severe economic shocks.
Citizenship: Another crucial issue is citizenship. There continue to be hundreds of thousands of southerners living and working in the North, and a smaller but significant number of northerners in the South. The parties have agreed to work to ensure that no one is left stateless, and they have agreed in principle on a nine-month transition period in which people can adjust their citizenship status. It is critical that both states follow through on this commitment. We have also called on Sudan and South Sudan to guarantee the rights of work, property, residency, and movement for all former and current Sudanese citizens. We continue to discourage any action that might cause people suddenly to become aliens in areas where they have resided and raised their families for decades.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for South Sudan
Beyond resolving the outstanding issues of its separation from the North, South Sudan also must address its own internal challenges as a newly independent state. The continued activity of armed militia groups and the proliferation of weapons pose an ongoing security threat. South Sudan needs to make substantially more progress on security sector reform and the demobilization and social reintegration of former fighters over the next year. The United States and South Sudan’s other international partners are actively supporting these efforts.
Without question, South Sudan has some of the worst human development indicators in the world. Much of the country has little transportation infrastructure, no formal educational system, limited health services, and no judicial system. There is very little industry or economic infrastructure outside of Juba.
To build a new nation, South Sudan will need coherent and realistic development plans that build local capacity so that the South Sudanese people can, over the long term, do the building themselves rather than become dependent on outsiders and the donor community. USAID along with South Sudan’s other international development partners have been providing technical expertise aimed at increasing the capacity of the new South Sudanese Government. We have worked closely with the Government of South Sudan from the local to the national levels and will continue to do so.
Transparent and democratic processes need to be put into place so that the Southern Sudanese people can hold their government accountable and have adequate input into decision-making. This is also critical if the Government of South Sudan is to sustain international support. The eyes of the world will indeed be on South Sudan in the weeks and months ahead. It must demonstrate its commitment to avoiding the pitfalls that have befallen many other oil-producing nations. President Kiir said the right things in his inauguration speech, and now his Government must deliver. The United States is committed to helping his Government do so.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for Sudan
Sudan too must address its own internal problems in the months and years ahead. First and foremost, the Government of Sudan must bring an end to the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur.
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile: At the same time that crisis was unfolding in Abyei, fighting broke out in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, an area that is home to tens of thousands of SPLA fighters. Some 73,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which continues. Humanitarian access has been severely restricted, and UN peacekeepers have been harassed and blocked from patrolling. On June 28, with the help of the African Union Panel, the parties signed a framework agreement on political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they have not agreed on a cessation of hostilities. And unfortunately, President Bashir has since raised problems with the framework agreement, which puts negotiations at risk. We are continuing to press the parties to bring an end to the fighting, allow unfettered access to humanitarian agencies and to accept a continued UN presence.
Darfur: The Government of Sudan must also finally bring an end to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A just, inclusive and durable settlement in Darfur is critical for a viable and prosperous Sudan in the future. To achieve such a settlement, the Sudanese Government should find ways to improve the economic situation of the Darfuri people while addressing their political concerns. The government must also seek to bring an end to the culture of impunity that has taken hold in Darfur.
One of Darfur’s rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement may sign a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan this week; however one other major group is still on the fence while other rebel movements have refused to take part in the Doha process. We have emphasized to the Government of Sudan that this agreement would be a positive step toward peace, but that it must continue to negotiate with the other armed movements.
The armed rebel movements in Darfur have contributed to the continuation of this conflict and they must take responsibility for working toward its end. During the days ahead, these groups must choose peace over war and recognize that long-term stability and recovery cannot be gained through additional conflict. We believe the non-negotiating movements must return to the peace talks and seek to conclude an agreement with the Sudanese Government.
Economic situation: In addition to resolving the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur, the Government of Sudan faces considerable economic challenges. With the loss of oil revenues from the south and a crippling debt estimated at $38 billion, the Government of Sudan needs debt relief, access to the International Financial Institutions and a new infusion of foreign investment. It also needs to revitalize its once promising agriculture sector.
The Government of Sudan showed an encouraging commitment to peace in signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, allowing the referendum to take place, and being the first nation in the world to recognize the independence of the South.
The United States has told the Sudanese Government that we are prepared to improve our bilateral relations if they continue down this path of peace. We have presented them with a roadmap toward normalized relations and taken initial steps in that direction. In February, the President initiated the process of reviewing Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and in June the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan traveled to Khartoum to discuss this review and to demonstrate our commitment to this process. We have also approved licenses for several American companies wishing to participate in agricultural development in Sudan.
The United States has told the Government of Sudan that we are prepared to help with the country’s challenges, and we have already taken initial steps to that end. However, in line with our roadmap, we can only implement this support if Sudan lives up to its CPA obligations and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders. This is not just the position of the United States; it is also the position of many other members of the international community and key international creditors.
The Government of Sudan now has a historic opportunity to end its isolation and redefine its relationship with the international community. We hope that Khartoum will seize this opportunity to secure a more prosperous future for its people.
Opportunities for a Shared Future of Partnership
The challenges ahead are daunting, and a great deal of hard work remains to be done. But in closing, I recall the scene I witnessed in Juba on Saturday. The spirit of hope that permeated the air can be built upon for a better future.
As President Obama noted in his statement, South Sudan’s successful independence is “a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”
Indeed, the light of a new dawn is possible. The people of Sudan and South Sudan have a historic opportunity today to chart a new future based on partnership, cooperation and shared prosperity. We are committed to working with Sudan and South Sudan toward the goal of two viable states at peace with another. The two nations cannot prosper unless the other is stable and economically viable. While they may be two nations, their fates are linked together by their shared history, people, and economics.
The Obama Administration will work with both countries in the weeks and months ahead to realize this promise of a better future for the people in both the South and the North.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Last Saturday, I had the honor of heading the U.S. delegation to Juba to celebrate South Sudan’s independence. It was a deeply moving day. After a half-century of war, at a cost of more than two million lives, the Republic of South Sudan can now finally determine its own future. The United States salutes the courage and sacrifice of the people of South Sudan, who never abandoned hope. After so many years of bitter conflict, South Sudan’s independence occurred peacefully and democratically through referendum—a heartening way for the world’s newest nation to be born.
Vice President Machar, welcome and congratulations to the people of the Republic of South Sudan. We are delighted that you are here to represent your new government at this meeting where the Security Council unanimously recommended that your country be admitted as the United Nation’s 193rd member state.
Ambassador Osman, we also commend the Government of Sudan’s decision to be the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence. We welcome all efforts to forge a relationship between Sudan and South Sudan that is rooted in mutual respect and cooperation—a relationship that strengthens the viability, security, and prosperity of both states. By continuing on the path of peace, the Government of Sudan can redefine its relationship with the international community and secure a brighter future for its people.
Mr. President, the Security Council remains fully engaged in helping both countries towards their shared goals of peace and stability. On July 8, this Council unanimously authorized a new UN peacekeeping mission in the Republic of South Sudan. UNMISS will assist the government as it builds a new nation, including on issues of peacebuilding, development, security, and protection.
But as we all know, this moment of promise is also fragile and fraught. Sudan and South Sudan must work hard to secure an enduring peace and two viable states coexisting as peaceful neighbors. It is vital that both countries work with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to swiftly resolve all outstanding issues. The parties need to finalize arrangements on the border, citizenship, oil, and other issues if they are to forge an enduring peace.
A permanent resolution of Abyei’s status remains elusive. Despite an agreement on temporary security arrangements and the imminent deployment of a UN interim security force, the situation in Abyei is still extremely volatile. An estimated 100,000 people remain displaced from their homes.
Meanwhile, brutal fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the troops of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North has displaced more than 70,000 people in Southern Kordofan. The Sudanese army is continuing and intensifying aerial bombardments that are killing civilians. On June 28, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North agreed to a framework of political and security principles for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but the Government of Sudan’s commitment to this agreement has wavered. Both parties need to agree immediately to a cessation of hostilities. The violence, the human rights abuses, and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies must end.
Given the ongoing hostilities and abuses in Southern Kordofan and the vulnerability of neighboring Blue Nile, we deeply regret the Government of Sudan’s decision to compel the United Nation’s departure from these two states. The United Nations should be allowed to maintain a presence in these areas to help distribute humanitarian aid, protect civilians, and implement any cessation of hostilities agreement.
Mr. President, the challenges are great, but they are by no means insurmountable. The Security Council has done its utmost to support this process, and this Council and my government will remain deeply engaged in supporting the Republic of South Sudan at this crucial juncture and into the future.
My own country’s history has taught us that it takes moral courage to attain freedom—and make freedom’s promise real for all citizens. We’ve learned that this work is never done. We have great faith in the people of South Sudan. We expect they will create a government that works for the good of all people and for the stability of the region – and thereby create a country that strengthens this community of sovereign nations. As I said in Juba on Saturday, “a nation born from conflict need not live in conflict.” In this spirit, and with great hope for the future of the world’s newest nation, the United States wholeheartedly supports South Sudan’s application for membership in the United Nations. Congratulations, and we look forward to welcoming you.
Thank you, Mr. President.
This morning, the United States voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1990, establishing the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). We are pleased that the Council acted swiftly—and unanimously—to adopt this resolution, which will contribute to ensuring that the agreement both parties reached can be implemented immediately and effectively. This robust peacekeeping presence is an essential part of the viability of these security arrangements to demilitarize Abyei and create conditions for a lasting political settlement.
Now only days away from the date of independence for South Sudan, it is imperative that the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan live up to their responsibilities. The Government of Sudan must prevent any further escalation of this crisis by ceasing its military actions immediately. We remain deeply concerned by ongoing attacks by Government of Sudan forces in Southern Kordofan and strongly condemn all acts of violence. The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North must agree immediately to a ceasefire in Southern Kordofan and end restrictions on humanitarian access and UN movements.
MS. NULAND: Good morning, everybody. As you know, this Saturday, July 9th, the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate a ceremony to mark its independence, culminating a six-year peace process. The U.S. presidential delegation to the ceremony will be led by our Ambassador to the United Nations, the Honorable Susan Rice. And the delegation will travel to Juba to attend this historic event today. We are very pleased this morning to have Ambassador Rice as well as several members of the delegation to talk to you about this trip. We also have Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development Don Steinberg.
Welcome, Ambassador Rice.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. I’m very honored to lead the delegation that will travel on behalf of the United States to Juba to welcome the new Republic of South Sudan into the community of sovereign nations.
As you know, the delegation will also include Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Brooke Anderson, the Deputy National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff and Counselor at the National Security Staff; General Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Deputy Administrator of USAID Don Steinberg; Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey, who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, and formerly chairman of that subcommittee; Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who of course is our Special Envoy of the President to Sudan; Barrie Walkley, who is the U.S. Consul General in Juba; and Mr. Ken Hackett, who is president of Catholic Relief Services, an NGO that’s been very active for many years throughout Sudan.
I’m particularly honored, in addition, that we’ll be joined on the delegation by General Colin Powell, who as you all know, along with one of my predecessors, John Danforth, worked so hard to lay the groundwork for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And obviously, General Powell did that while he served as Secretary of State.
So as you can see, this is a very strong and bipartisan American delegation. It reflects the President’s deep commitment to developments in Sudan and to supporting the new Republic of South Sudan. And we will be active, all of us, all members of this delegation, in our time in Juba, pushing forward on the issues that are so important and remain to be resolved.
Let me just say a few more words about what we’ll be doing, why it’s important, and what message we’ll be bringing on behalf of President Obama. Our trip will, of course, focus on the celebration of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. Our day will include, in addition to the ceremonies, a meeting with President Salva Kiir and a ribbon-cutting to officially transform the U.S. Consulate in Juba into the U.S. Embassy to the new Republic of South Sudan.
As you know, this independence celebration is a deeply significant event for the people of South Sudan, who, after a half century of war and more than 2 million people lost, finally will have the ability to determine their own future. By any standard, this is a historic moment, and the fact that it’s occurring as a result of a democratic exercise through a referendum that occurred peacefully and on time is itself all the more remarkable.
The United States has worked tirelessly to help make the promise of this moment a reality. First, it would not have been possible without the steadfast leadership and personal engagement of President Obama, who raised his voice consistently and eloquently as he did before what was a historic gathering at the United Nations last September, where he spoke in support, quote, “of a future where, after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.”
Our efforts have also been championed by Secretary of State Clinton and bolstered by the hard work of General Scott Gration, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Carson, and many others who have logged dozens of trips to the region and countless sleepless hours on the phone and around the negotiating table. Thanks to these efforts and the hard work of many others in the international community and at the United Nations, the moment is approaching when a future of peace is finally possible.
But let’s be absolutely clear: This is a fragile and fraught moment as well. It cannot and must not be taken for granted, least of all by the Government of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, who will have to still work exceptionally hard to achieve an enduring peace and enable the emergence of two viable states that are peaceful neighbors.
A number of core issues remain to be resolved. A permanent resolution of Abyei’s status is still elusive. And the situation there, in spite of an agreement on temporary security arrangements signed on June 20th and the imminent deployment of a UN interim security force for Abyei, is still extremely volatile. An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Abyei.
And meanwhile, of course, we’ve seen brutal fighting in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan between Sudanese armed forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army North troops who come from that state. And the Sudanese army continues to carry out aerial bombardments that are hitting civilians. And on June 28th, the government and the SPLM North agreed to a framework of political and security principles for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they haven’t agreed yet to any cessation of hostilities.
The United States clearly has condemned the escalating violence, especially by the Government of Sudan against civilians, and the detention and targeting of UN national staff and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies. In light of this situation, the United States is extremely concerned by the government’s decision to compel the departure of the UN mission in Sudan from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and elsewhere in the North on July 9th. It’s vital that the United Nations be allowed to maintain a full peacekeeping presence in these areas for an additional period of time in order to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, support the implementation of any cessation of hostilities agreement, and vitally, to protect civilians.
Furthermore, we’re concerned that the parties haven’t finalized arrangements on major outstanding CPA issues, including the border, citizenship, and oil. We believe the parties need to urgently resolve these remaining issues. In the meantime, it’s critical that the parties cooperate on such key issues as oil and citizenship in order to avoid major economic shocks or social upheaval. Allowing these issues, including the final status of Abyei, to linger without resolution for any length of time could swiftly destabilize the future relationship between these two states. So for our part, the United States will continue to be extremely active in supporting the implementation of the CPA in all of its stages, as we have since its inception, and particularly over the last 12 months. And we will continue to deliver the same consistent message on behalf of President Obama.
Saturday’s celebration is above all a testament to the people of South Sudan and secondly to the parties to the CPA. But as we’ve made very clear, the success of the CPA and the resolution of the larger issues in Sudan, including in particular Darfur, will remain a strong and consistent focus of the United States. As we mark progress for the Republic of South Sudan and an important new chapter in the history of what has been a very troubled region, the United States will remain resolute and clear-eyed about the road ahead.
Thank you, and I would now hand it over to Ambassador Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Ambassador Rice, thank you very, very much, and I am very pleased and honored to be joining you on this presidential delegation to South Sudan. July 9 marks the technical conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an accord that ended over two decades of conflict and suffering in Southern Sudan. The people of South Sudan can now look forward with great hope and expectations to the future, despite the enormous challenges that still must be addressed to secure the peace and to preclude another outbreak of conflict.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping South Sudan achieve its political and development goals, as well as working constructively with the government of Khartoum to improve and normalize our relations. To realize their dreams of peace and stability, we believe the leaders of both South and North will need to collaborate intensely and sincerely to achieve these goals. This means a reinvigoration of their efforts to ensure that their separation is characterized by dignity and mutual respect and in a manner that strengthens the continued viability, security, and economic prosperity of each of the two states.
The governments of North and South Sudan still need to reach agreement on critical issues from the CPA that have not yet been resolved. These are, among others, oil and transitional financial arrangements, citizenship and citizens’ rights, the resolution of the five areas along the North-South border, and the future status of Abyei. We also expect Sudanese leaders to implement fully their June 20 agreement on Abyei, which includes a full withdrawal of Sudanese armed forces from that territory.
We also expect the North to fulfill its obligations to hold and conclude in a timely manner meaningful popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. It will be critical for the parties to work together to resolve the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis that now exists in Southern Kordofan. The current situation is deeply troubling. We call on the parties to reach agreement on and immediately implement a cessation of hostilities and allow for aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by this conflict.
After years of fighting, the people of South Sudan have earned their right to peace. Their children deserve a more promising future that leaves the conflict of generations of the past behind. We hope that their leaders will seize this unique opportunity to establish a durable and self-sustaining peace that will provide a solid foundation for two viable states sharing a prosperous and stable future in which their people can realize their long-delayed hopes and aspirations.
The United States, acting in concert with the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union and other international partners, will continue to play its part in assisting the new state of South Sudan to strengthen its sovereignty, build its capacity for enlightened governance, and contribute to its economic development. This will be a challenge for all of us. The United States stands ready to work with the people of South Sudan to meet that challenge. Thank you.
I’d now ask Ambassador Steinberg.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: We have a real challenge ahead of us in supporting the process of a new state in Africa, and the United States has had a long history of supporting South Sudan both before the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequently. At the explicit instructions of President Obama, we have worked to provide the people and the Government of South Sudan with the tools that they need to build a nation. And we often shy away from the phrase “nation building,” but in this case it is particularly appropriate.
Ambassador Carson spoke of the expectations of the Sudanese people, and indeed they have high expectations for what peace will mean for them. And already over the course of the last few years, we have worked with the Government of South Sudan to move themselves from a concept into a viable, functioning government. We’ve helped provide a million people with access to water. We’ve helped expand from school enrollment rates of about one in five to now 68 percent. We have financed the construction of roads, bridges, electrical power stations. And perhaps equally significant, we supported the January 2011 referendum on self-determination, which was overwhelmingly in support of independence.
In this effort, we’re working in partnership with a variety of agencies, the World Bank, our Troika partners, the United Kingdom and Norway on developmental and humanitarian assistance. And in that regard, we are prepared to host in September an international conference that will draw together the international community with the Government of South Sudan as a platform to demonstrate their vision and their future for their country and to engage with the international community. That will be held here in Washington towards the end of September.
In line with that effort, we have identified four key pillars for USAID and the whole of government to engage in, and these pillars are the following: to create an enabling environment for the promotion of private investment in South Sudan; to strengthen the agricultural sector to become a true engine of growth for South Sudan; to develop a common platform in institutional structure for the international community to engage in this new country; and to build the human capital necessary to govern and deliver services.
And it’s important to remember that this is a facilitative role, largely, that we’re performing. South Sudan has ample resources from its petroleum reserves and other assets to provide the basic needs for its development. However, in order to make sure that occurs they need the governmental capacity to ensure that resources are well used, that corruption doesn’t take place, and that bottlenecks and other impediments to development don’t occur.
I need to highlight as well that we’re responding to large humanitarian needs throughout South Sudan, and in particular now in Southern Kordofan, in Abyei, where we’re seeing probably a total of about 200,000 people displaced by recent fighting. Many of those are traveling to the South, and we are working with the Government of South Sudan to provide resources to them. I myself was in South Sudan about six weeks ago and met with a variety of Northerners who had come south and who were looking for a new life in the South but had very high expectations for what that life would provide to them. We’re concerned about their safety. We’re concerned about the citizenship questions in the North, which need to be resolved, otherwise we may see a massive flood of new IDPs coming South. And as Ambassador Rice said, we continue to press for humanitarian access to assist those in need in places where access is restricted, especially South Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains, and Darfur.
So we’re very excited about the future. As of July 9th we will have a full USAID mission in Juba along with a mission in Khartoum. And we are delighted to be pursuing the vision of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to help this country emerge as a prosperous and free country.
MS. NULAND: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: Ambassador Rice – and maybe, Ambassador Carson you can weigh in – I have a wider question that maybe we can go a bit narrow as well – about your support for this referendum and for the independence of Southern Sudan has been very public and very emphatic. And I’m wondering whether you think – where this leaves the relationship with the North? And whether the people – whether you feel there’s – the North now feels any kind of stigma because of your strong support for Southern Sudan? Even in some of the comments, I mean, that – I think the Northerners feel that – and just from some people we’ve talked to, the Northerners feel now that you’ve chosen kind of Southern Sudan over the North. And the relationship with the government now, how do you – now that they feel that they’ve fulfilled their commitments on Southern Sudan, how do you, as you say, get them to continue to fulfill their commitments on Darfur, on some of these other things while managing their expectations on things like the terrorism list and such?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well first of all, what we have favored is faithful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which the two parties signed of their own volition, presumably because they determined it to be in their own – each of them in their own interest. So there’s no choosing of sides in that regard. And clearly, with the referendum having been held and the people of South Sudan stating their preferences clearly and overwhelmingly, we and others in the international community – indeed the entirety of the international community, every member state on the Security Council, every member state in the United Nations is committed to supporting and welcoming the Republic of South Sudan into the community of nations.
That said, obviously we have a vital interest in the success of peaceful and mutually beneficial relations between the government of the South and the government of the North. We want very much, as I think you’ve heard many of my colleagues say and Ambassador Carson just reiterated, to be in a position to build a more normal and more constructive relationship with the government in Khartoum. But for that to occur, as we have discussed on numerous occasions directly with them, we need to see full and final implementation of all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and clearly there are some important elements that remain unresolved.
We have also, from the very beginning, been very plain about the United States’ deep concern about what is transpiring in Darfur and now more recently in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Our interest, however, is seeing those issues resolved, the conflict end, political processes put in place that would meet the aspirations of the people of those regions within the country of Sudan, and that’s what we’ll work to continue to do.
We have many facets now to our relationship with the government in Khartoum. There is great potential for that relationship to deepen, but that depends on progress, as I’ve described, and progress in the roadmap that we have discussed over the course of the last many months with the government.
QUESTION: But they’re expecting – just a quick follow-up – they’re expecting now that they’ve signed this agreement, the South Sudan is an independent country, “It’s time for you to take us off the terrorism list.”
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, in fact, the government in Khartoum knows exactly what to expect because they have heard it very precisely and directly from Ambassador Lyman and from many other senior American officials. There should be no confusion or ambiguity about expectations. We have been as plain as it’s possible to be in black and white, and we are fulfilling our side of the bargain. And as the government fulfills its commitments, as we hope it will under the CPA, we will be in a position to make the progress that we hope to make.
Johnnie, do you want to add anything to that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Just – thank you. Just one brief comment, and that is to say that the long-term political and economic success of the South is dependent upon having a strong, politically stable, and economically viable partner in the North. And the long-term viability of Khartoum’s government is dependent upon having a politically stable and economically prosperous partner in the South. Both of these countries will, in fact, remain very, very dependent upon one another for a long period of time. It is in their mutual interest, it is in our mutual interest to see two stable, viable, and strong economic states next to one another, and we hope that that message also gets out.
QUESTION: A question for whoever can answer it: The Southern Sudanese have said that the biggest and best present that the United States could give them on their birthday would be lifting the sanctions, and that if they don’t do that, that their oil-based economy just simply won’t be viable. So my question is: Are you – is the United States prepared to either split off South Sudan from existing sanctions on the whole of Sudan or lift sanctions on all of them as part of your efforts to get them kind of up and running?
And a second question is: What prospects are there for extending UNMIS given that, as far as I understand, its mandate sort of ends on July 9th under the CPA? How can you get them to keep them on?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I will take the second one. Do you want to –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I’ll go check.
AMBASSADOR RICE: The sanctions that have been in place on Sudan – there are different sorts and different types going back to 1993. They would not bear on and be a legacy that will be the responsibility of the Republic of South Sudan. So there are technical aspects to that, but the intent of the sanctions would not be consistent with that.
QUESTION: So that’s not – just so I’m clear on that – that they will no longer be subject to those sanctions as they emerge as a new country?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I mean, there are technical steps that would need to be taken to accomplish that, but the sanctions were imposed for the behavior of a government that is not the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. So we will make accommodation for that reality.
With respect to the United Nations presence, there are multiple aspects to this. In the first instance, we – the United Nations Security Council expects to adopt a resolution as early as Friday, which will establish a new UN mission for the Republic of South Sudan. It is a mission that will have various aspects to it, from security support to protection of civilians to support for building the institutions of the state. And a substantial share of the current UN presence or force in Sudan will shift over and become part of this new mission for the South. And there will ultimately be some troops that leave, some that come in, a different-sized civilian component, et cetera.
In the North, the portion that is above the 1156 border, which includes Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile but not limited to it, there are also currently several thousand UN forces under the current mission UNMIS. The government, very regrettably – and as I mentioned in my comments, to our grave concern – has indicated that it will insist that the UN terminate its mission in the North, effective on the 9th. The United States has been using all of our diplomatic and other instruments, as have the other permanent member of the Security Council and I think indeed many members of the Security Council, to try to persuade the leadership in Khartoum that it is not in their interest that the UN be compelled to leave abruptly or prematurely while key CPA issues remain unresolved and while, in particular, there is an issue with the common border, and a particularly volatile and grave humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and potentially Blue Nile state.
So this is something we’re very concerned about, we’ve been focused on for quite some while. It’s not just the United States; it’s all of the leading members of the United Nations and others beyond that. And we will continue to do what we can to underscore to Khartoum that it is in their interests and the interests of the region that they not take this step. But they seem thus far to be quite determined, and this poses a great deal of worry for the security of people in Southern Kordofan for the common border, for humanitarian access, and a number of other important issues.
MODERATOR: I’m cautious of the schedule of our principals, so we have time for two more (inaudible).
QUESTION: Two quick ones. You say that it’s very obvious for the government of Khartoum what they need to do to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But I was wondering if you could specify what exactly you expect next of them. I mean, I think they could argue that you keep changing the goalposts, and I was wondering whether you could be a little bit more specific.
And then on the conference that you mentioned for the end of September, could you tell us a little bit more about what kind of conference it is? Is it a pledging conference? Is it a brainstorming conference about how to take this further?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: As Ambassador Rice has indicated, the United States has laid out a very clear and specific roadmap for the government of Khartoum that would lead to a clear improvement in relations and include the removal of Khartoum from the state sponsor of terrorism list. That roadmap was originally conveyed to the government of Khartoum by Senator Kerry, and it has been reiterated over the last five or six months in numerous diplomatic dialogues, initially by Ambassador Scott Gration and now by Ambassador Princeton Lyman.
Clearly, the first step that must be done is the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. What we will see on Saturday with the independence of South Sudan is only one element of the full implementation of that agreement. As many of you may recall, that the CPA called for a resolution of both the problems in the South as well as in Abyei. There were supposed to be, on January 9, two referenda. One took place in the South; the other one was supposed to but did not take place in Abyei. As we have all mentioned, the issue of Abyei has not been resolved. In fact, since May 19th, the situation on the ground became worse and is only now returning to the status quo ante. It is imperative that the government of the North remove all SAF troops from Abyei, live up to its commitments in an agreement made with the South on June 20th with respect to Abyei.
But beyond that, the post-referendum issues that require immediate attention and completion are issues related to oil and transitional financial arrangements. There must be a resolution of the five remaining border disagreements along the South. There must be clarity on the issue of citizenship as well.
In addition, we have indicated to the government of Khartoum that we are prepared to review and look at the removal of state sponsor of terrorism designation from that country. But we have said that any removal of Khartoum from that list must be accompanied by full implementation of Abyei and must, in fact, meet all the criteria for the removal of the state sponsor designation under existing laws.
We are working as hard as we can with the authorities in Khartoum to make progress on these issues, but we are not yet at the end of the line with respect to full implementation of the agreement. We have not moved the goal posts. The government is clearly aware based on our verbal and written transmissions to them of exactly what is required.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: On the conference, the Government of South Sudan asked us to hold this conference as an opportunity for them to, two and a half months into their tenure, to show the international community a variety of commitments they’re prepared to make to be good development partners and good partners for the private sector. And so they have asked for the opportunity to present their development plans, to talk about what they’re going to be doing to keep corruption under control, to talk about how they’re going to be creating a conducive environment for the private sector, and a variety of other issues.
We’ve been working with the World Bank, with the African Union, with Norway, the United Kingdom, with Turkey and a variety of others to hold that as a two-day program. The first day is going to focus on what I’ve just described. The second day will focus on the private sector, and we’re working with the Corporate Council on Africa to put together a wide variety of opportunities for foreign investors. Again, this is a unique situation. There will be resources that are available from the Government of South Sudan, so this isn’t a question of having to need tremendous inflows of outside capital, but they do need help in this regard.
The other thing I would say is that it will also be an opportunity for us in the U.S. Government to announce some deliverables, some steps that we’re prepared to take in order to encourage South Sudan. As you may know, last year we provided some $300 million worth of assistance to South Sudan in the areas of education, housing, health care, and a variety of other areas. We’ll be announcing new plans at that point.
The other aspect I wanted to highlight vis-à-vis this conference but also more broadly vis-à-vis our development efforts in South Sudan is our emphasis on gender; our insistence that the government incorporate women into not only the delegations that they’re sending to these missions but also fully integrate gender considerations into all of their development efforts. And this is something that we stress very strongly with the government.
QUESTION: Just to go back about the designation on the terrorism list, is it under review at the moment or has the review not started yet, if there could be clarification on that? And if I could ask the same question about Darfur, how important is it to see some movement on Darfur? There is some fear that the focus on South Sudan and South Kordofan and Abyei is having less focus on Darfur. So what are your expectations from the government of Khartoum on that?
AMBASSADOR RICE: We initiated the process of examining Sudan’s status under the state sponsor of terrorism designation following the referendum. But as Ambassador Carson said repeatedly, there can be no lifting of that designation unless and until Khartoum fulfills its obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as we outlined very clearly and specifically in the U.S. roadmap that Ambassador Carson described. So that’s where we are.
With respect to Darfur, the United States has been for many years and remains deeply focused on the horrible humanitarian situation that persists in Darfur. We have been very active in every respect, most directly and consistently through the efforts of Ambassador Dane Smith to try to address and resolve not only the humanitarian but the political and security issues that remain of grave concern in Darfur. In the United Nations, we are very much focused on Darfur, on efforts to negotiate various aspects of resolution of the disagreement through Doha and other means. We have a large UN peacekeeping force on the ground in Darfur with a robust mandate to protect civilians, and we are urging that it do all it can within its capabilities to fulfill that mandate.
So by no means has Darfur been sidelined or fallen off the radar screen; quite the contrary. Unfortunately, now there are several other hot areas that require attention in parallel, but not to the exclusion of Darfur. And certainly, as we have elaborated with great specificity and in great detail, the roadmap for improved relations between the United States and the government in Khartoum, there are different stages and different elements to it, and the situation in Darfur is an important component. It is not the component that has immediate bearing on what we have been discussing, the state sponsorship designation. That’s tied to the criteria in the law, as Ambassador Carson said, as well as to performance on the CPA obligations. But there are other aspects of normalization and improvement, major aspects of normalization and improvement, that do depend on progress in Darfur.
QUESTION: Can you perhaps clarify that? Because I was under the impression – maybe it was from the last administration and maybe it’s a little bit different now.
AMBASSADOR RICE: It’s been a lot.
QUESTION: But I was just under the impression that Darfur was an issue in the terrorism list, kind of, criteria that obviously CPA was very important but that there was going to be no lifting of Sudan from the terrorism list until the situation improved in Darfur. Now, maybe it’s improved to the point where that’s not part of the criteria anymore?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I stand by what I just explained.
MS. NULAND: Good. Thank you very much to our briefers. Safe travels to Juba, and thanks to all of you.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you.
The United States is encouraged by the July 4 meeting between Sudanese President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir at the Extraordinary Session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development on Sudan in Addis Ababa. We welcome the commitment that Sudan’s leaders made to continue negotiations on outstanding issues following South Sudan’s independence on July 9. We urge the parties to set a firm deadline – no later than the end of July – for the resolution of these issues. Leaving key issues unresolved risks undermining the prospects for a positive and cooperative future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan.
We also welcome the leadership of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in convening the parties only five days before South Sudan’s independence, and appreciate the on-going work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in facilitating ongoing discussions between Sudanese leaders.
Recently the parties have made encouraging progress on interim arrangements for Abyei and security arrangements for the border zone between the North and South. Discussions on other areas, such as debt relief and currency, have also advanced. While these agreements reflect significant achievements, we remain concerned that several critical outstanding issues remain unresolved, including questions relating to the oil sector and the final status of Abyei.
The United States also calls on the parties to end the fighting in Southern Kordofan, and to facilitate unfettered access for aid workers to deliver humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by the conflict. We are concerned that President Bashir has raised objections to the political and security framework agreement previously negotiated by the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. We urge the Government of Sudan to work with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel urgently to overcome any objections so the vitally important discussions called for in that agreement can proceed.
The United States commends the swift passage of UN Security Council resolution 1990, which approves the mandate requested by Sudanese leaders to facilitate the deployment of up to 4200 Ethiopian peacekeepers to the Abyei region of Sudan.
Abyei has been a source of regional tension for many years, as the world witnessed last month when Sudanese Armed Forces forcibly took control of the region, resulting in widespread displacement and looting.
The approval of this force is a critical step in implementing the June 20 agreement signed by the parties, whereby the Sudanese Armed Forces will withdraw from the Abyei area along with any Sudan People’s Liberation Army forces there. An Ethiopian brigade will deploy as the United Nations Interim Security Force to enforce this withdrawal and maintain security throughout the Abyei region.
We urge the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to make good on their commitments to withdraw forces from Abyei and use the talks facilitated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to reach mutual agreement on the future status of Abyei.
While the United States welcomes this Security Council resolution regarding Abyei, we remain deeply concerned about the on-going crisis in Southern Kordofan. Tens of thousands of people have been driven from their homes, and there are reports of very serious human rights abuses and violence targeting individuals based on their ethnicity and political affiliation. Also of concern is the troubling detention of Sudanese local staff members of the UN Mission in Sudan by Sudanese authorities last week as they were being evacuated from the airport in Kadugli. While two staff members have been released, five remain in the custody of Sudanese military officials. We call on the Sudanese Government to release them immediately and cease any harassment and intimidation of UN personnel in Southern Kordofan. We urge the parties to reach an immediate ceasefire and to provide aid workers with the unfettered access required to deliver humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by the conflict.
Ambassador: …just tabled this morning a draft resolution to establish the interim security force for Abyei as requested by the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan, consistent with the interim security agreement that was reached between the parties on Monday in Addis Ababa. The Council will begin consultations on this draft resolution which reflects the mandate proposed to the Council as agreed by the two parties and that calls for the deployment of 4,200 Ethiopian National Defense Force personnel under the United Nations flag, and we are looking forward to discussions with Council members in order to swiftly adopt a resolution authorizing this new interim security force for Abyei so that the agreement that both parties have reached which is obviously urgent and fragile can be implemented immediately and effectively.
In addition, as we have been saying in the Security Council and many other venues during the course of the last couple of weeks, we are gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan, the fighting that has transpired there in particular. We are deeply concerned about attacks on and threats to and intimidation of UN personnel, obstructions to freedom of movement and access for humanitarian goods; allegations and indeed verified reports of aerial bombardment and other attacks against civilian personnel. This too remains a subject of discussion within the Council and attention, but we wanted to in particular to move forward in establishing the interim security force for Abyei so that that very important agreement can be implemented.
I’m happy to take a couple questions.
Reporter: Thank you. There is an impasse in the Council regarding the Syria situation. Would you accept a Presidential statement rather than a draft resolution if you can get consent of Russia and other opposing countries to the draft resolution? Thank you.
Ambassador: The United States has been exceedingly clear and consistent in our condemnation of the violence against peaceful protesters in Syria. We think it’s past time that there be a real and credible political reform process underway in Syria and that those who are seeking to express their aspirations and ambitions peacefully be respected and not face violence. And in that context, we have been very clear that we think it is past time for the United Nations Security Council to speak clearly and on the basis of principle as our government has, as many other governments have, and as the Human Rights Council in Geneva has. And so we very strongly support a draft Security Council resolution on Syria. We think it’s time, past time indeed, for the Council to act on it, and we think that the Council should speak with one voice and be clear in condemning what are obviously very irresponsible and unacceptable actions taken by the Government of Syria.
Reporter: On that subject, or a similar subject, Ambassador, do you think it is appropriate to have the Security Council make an expression of concern about the political situation in Syria in the resolution and the (INAUDIBLE) mandate?
Ambassador: We think the Security Council should speak clearly and unequivocally about what is transpiring internally in Syria and that’s why we have supported a resolution to that effect. We also think that there needs to be a credible renewal of the mandate on UNDOF and that that mandate renewal needs to account of recent developments on the Golan Heights and on the area between Israel and Syria.
Ambassador: No, we think that the resolution on the Golan Heights ought to focus principally on what is happening in the Golan Heights, and I think that it will. But at the same time, as I’ve said now three times this morning, or this afternoon, I think it’s vitally important that the Council speak clearly and unequivocally about the atrocities and abuses that are occurring inside of Syria.
Reporter: On Sudan, you said that you hoped that this resolution will be adopted swiftly. Is it possible that it could happen this week? And on the situation in Southern Kordafan, do you think a similar deployment might be advisable for the Security Council to authorize an interim force to go into Southern Kordafan?
Ambassador: Well, with respect to the resolution we tabled today, we haven’t even begun consultations on it so it’d be premature to speculate about when exactly it might be adopted. This will be, I think it’s important to note, the first establishment of a new peacekeeping operation in quite some time. And indeed that will undoubtedly require careful consideration in various capitals, including our own. So while we’ll move swiftly, I don’t think it realistic to be…to assume it will happen overnight.
With respect to Southern Kordafan, as you know, the parties are very much engaged in discussions about trying to affect a cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of forces from Southern Kordafan. That agreement hasn’t been reached and I wouldn’t want to presume or prejudge that it will occur or that indeed it will call for any particular kind of United Nations presence. As you know, there is, in UNMIS, now a significant contingent of UN personnel in Southern Kordafan.
Reporter: On the Darfur peace agreement, I know there was a meeting yesterday, is there some- it seems that most of the rebel groups have not..have spoken actually against the document. I wanted to know you know whether you think this will actually bring peace to Darfur. And on the Libya presidential statement that’s been pending for some time, this was told that the U.S. had proposed that, you know language to the effect that member states recognized the Transitional National Council as a legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people. The U.S. hasn’t recognized the TNC. How is it consistent that U.S. would be proposing that as an amendment and essentially killing the the PRST?
Ambassador: We have stated, the United States has stated, that we view the TNC as the legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people. That is been our stated policy now. I think the statement was made on or about June 9th. Now, so there’s no discrepancy there. And that is the basis of U.S policy. With respect to Darfur, we heard a briefing, as you know, from the Qatarian negotiator as well as Joint Special Representative Bosolay yesterday. We are of the view that that agreement represents a step, an important step, forward. Obviously, in and of itself it is not sufficient to end the conflict in Darfur, but we think it was a, an important step and we have supported it.
Reporter: Ambassador, the 4200 troops – that will be 4x higher than the current UN force in Abyei, why is that necessary? And Khartoum has agreed to this accord because it places Abyei in the North. Is that the understanding of the international community?
Ambassador: To your latter question, the answer is no. There is no such assumption or understanding. That is not the view of any recognized international entity. But nor is it the substance of the agreement, the interim security agreement, for Abyei. The purpose of that is to allow for the withdrawal of forces. At this stage that means the forces of the government of Sudan, which are now occupying Abyei , and that that area would become demilitarized and administered in a joint fashion and that would persist pending resolution of the critical underlying issues, which as you know, are not yet resolved. You had a first part to your question though.
Reporter: 4200, 4x higher than the current…
Ambassador: 4200. The draft resolution that we tabled reflects the composition and the mandate that the two parties themselves have requested that they believe is necessary to effectively implement their agreement in Abyei. It also reflects the contribution that the Ethiopian defense forces have said they are prepared to make. And I think it also reflects input and assessment from UN personnel, who were…who were engaged, if not directly than on the margins of, these negotiations. Ultimately, it’s obviously up for the Security Council to decide the strength and the mandate of any UN mission. But the United States, in tabling this draft, has sought to remain faithful to the agreement reached by the parties, which we understand was hard won and inherently fragile. And we think that the Council ought to give very, very serious consideration to the…to the request of the parties, both in terms of the mandate and composition of the force. Thank you very much.
On Monday, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to reduce tensions in Abyei and allow UN peacekeepers from Ethiopia into the region. I commend the parties for taking this step forward toward peace, and I urge them now to build on that progress and agree to an immediate cease fire in Southern Kordofan. Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, both parties committed to resolve their differences peacefully, and both parties have a responsibility to end the current violence and allow immediate humanitarian access to desperate people who have been driven from their homes and are now cut off from outside help.
The situation in Southern Kordofan is dire, with deeply disturbing reports of attacks based on ethnicity. The United States condemns all acts of violence, in particular the Sudanese Armed Forces aerial bombardment of civilians and harassment and intimidation of UN peacekeepers. With a ceasefire in Southern Kordofan, alongside the agreement to deploy peacekeepers to Abyei, we can get the peace process back on track. But without these actions, the roadmap for better relations with the Government of Sudan cannot be carried forward, which will only deepen Sudan’s isolation in the international community. Without a cease-fire and political negotiations, the people of Southern Kordofan cannot enjoy the right to have their political grievances addressed. The negotiations now under way in Addis Ababa demand the urgent commitment from both sides to peace and to the agreement for immediate help to those civilians caught up in this conflict.
Earlier today, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement signed an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which will reduce tensions in Abyei and improve the security and humanitarian situation on the ground. I spoke with leaders from both sides in Addis Ababa last week and I have had more phone discussions with Sudanese leaders since. I know these negotiations have not been easy. I commend both parties for resolving their differences peacefully after the outbreak of violence.
I also want to thank the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and its chairman Thabo Mbeki, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles, and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan Haile Menkerios for the important role each played in facilitating dialogue between the parties. The agreement signed today is an important first step – but the real test of the parties’ commitment will be the full implementation of its provisions in the coming days. We will work within the UN Security Council to seek a resolution authorizing the agreed-upon interim security force to support the swift deployment of the Ethiopian peacekeepers. At the same time, I urge all parties to follow through on their commitment to withdraw their military forces and take steps to facilitate the return of the tens of thousands of people displaced by recent fighting.
The United States is still concerned about on-going violence in Southern Kordofan and the resulting humanitarian crisis. We call on both sides to allow unfettered access for aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. We also urge Sudanese leaders in Addis Ababa to agree on an immediate cessation of hostilities.
By channeling this cooperative spirit that led to a successful referendum, and by continuing the dialogue that led to the agreement on the withdrawal of forces from Abyei, Sudan’s leaders can still work together in the lead up to July and start a new chapter in their country’s history. One of peace, prosperity, and closer ties with the international community.