AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Madam Secretary, thank you so very, very much. The support that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have given to this process has been extraordinary and sustained, and with all that’s on your plate I don’t know how you do it. But we have worked so hard in this Administration and so many people to keep Sudan from falling back into civil war, where millions of people die, and to achieve a peaceful outcome. I’m very grateful to you and to the President for the privilege of taking on this position.
I also want to pay tribute to Scott Gration, who put so much of himself, his heart and soul, into this process for the last two-plus years. And Scott, thank you for everything you’ve done.
We only have 100 days before July 9th, when the South is to become fully independent. They have a lot of tough issues to negotiate. This – these are going to be hard negotiations, they’re going to be tough, there’s going to be fights about this and that and the other thing. But the parties are engaged. I leave Saturday for meetings in both Ethiopia and Sudan, where the parties are engaged in a whole range of these issues. I agree with you that Abyei will be one of the tough issues to resolve, and we’re working very closely with our partners, the African Union, the British, the Norwegians, and many others, to help the parties reach that agreement.
We’re also deeply concerned, as you said, about Darfur, about the continuing problems of violence there, the many, many, almost 2 million people who have been displaced and who are still living in camps. I’m delighted, relieved, that Ambassador Dane Smith continues to be our point person on Darfur, providing a great deal of energy, leadership, knowledge, and experience. He leaves next week to join the negotiations in Doha, which have taken on new life and have new promise, and we’re going to make an intensive effort there to see if that agreement can be reached, which opens the doors for more peace in Darfur.
I know, Madam Secretary, you have more commitments to make today, and I’m happy to stay here and answer questions, but I just want to say again the support that comes from the President and yourself matters in Sudan. They know it, they realize it, and it makes a big difference. So thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am going to leave you after I say hello to everyone. Thank you so much. (Inaudible.) Thank you very much for your hard work. (Inaudible.)
MR. TONER: I think Ambassador Lyman can take a couple of questions.
QUESTION: Andy Quinn from Reuters. Hi, Ambassador Lyman.
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Hi.
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have a couple of questions. The first is UN peacekeeping forces in Sudan yesterday were confirming the (inaudible) report from satellite imagery indicating not only a buildup of forces in Abyei, but also heavy weaponry. I’m wondering if you have – what information we have about that, where the weapons might be coming from, what we can do to stop that? Doesn’t that mean that Abyei is lurking into a significantly more perilous period right now if you’ve got heavy weapons?
And the second question is just where we stand on the roadmap with normalization for Khartoum. Are they doing what they need to do to get where we want them to be?
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: On your – on the question on Abyei, those active forces are coming in from both sides. On the North, they’re coming in in the form of militias – PDFs they’re called. But they’re getting more arms, more heavily armed, and that’s what the UN is very concerned about. From the South, it’s coming from the SPLA, the Southern army. And both are in violation of – as the Secretary said, because neither side is supposed to have armed forces in Abyei.
There is an agreement that has been reached on how to have those forces be withdrawn, but it hasn’t been implemented. It does involve the UN being a verifying and monitoring group. The UN has to strengthen itself to play that role. We’re going to have some discussions on that when I go out this weekend.
It is a very tense situation, because this is taking place with the migration not taking – being blocked, and that creates tension in and of itself. So we have to work on two fronts. We have to try and ease this immediate security problem, but I don’t think we’re going to get the tensions really resolved until the people in Abyei know what’s going to happen to them, and particularly by July. Are they going to remain in the North, are they going to move to the South? Who – and that the Sudanese leadership has to address.
Now, on your second question on the roadmap, well, we’ve laid out to the government the pathway to normalization. The first big step on that roadmap was to not only allow but to accept the results of the referendum. They did that. And the President, as he had indicated, said he would then respond by beginning the process to examine whether Sudan could be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. That process involved a review of how they’re doing on those issues directly and to move it forward. We hope that that can be done and reach those conclusions by July.
The other elements in the normalization which are very important are completing the very tasks under the CPA to which the Secretary alluded. They include Abyei very explicitly in our roadmap and they mean reaching sufficient agreement on oil and the other issues. All those have been laid out for the government. We’re moving – they’re moving on some. We’re pushing hard on the others. And I think they do understand exactly how the timetable works.
QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador. Bill Jones from Executive Intelligence Review. There has been much concern about the economic situation in Southern Sudan, and some of the representatives have talked about the need for a Marshall Plan of sorts. I was wondering what ideas do you have in bringing to bear the economic forces which can begin to work on the infrastructure and other problems that they have in Southern Sudan.
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Here’s the irony of Southern Sudan: It has an oil income which is not insubstantial, but it’s an extraordinarily poor area. It has almost no roads. Agriculture was totally devastated by the civil wars. The literacy rate – the lack of literacy, I think Scott and I were talking about this yesterday and he was saying literacy may be as much – at most 15 percent. So you’re dealing with a country that’s going to become independent that lacks resources, lacks real government capability of delivering it.
So yes, there will have to be international resources. We have a very substantial aid program there now. It’s one of the largest on the African continent. And other donors are coming in, and once they join the World Bank and the IMF they’ll have access to those resources. But the real task for them will be creating a governing structure and a set of economic priorities that allows those resources to be well used, including their own, including their oil revenue, et cetera. Agriculture is going to be key. Education is going to be key. They have to obviously improve infrastructure. They have to have really good governance so they manage these resources very well. So I think all these things are there. Our AID mission is developing longer-term plans. We’ve been working with them now for several years, but particularly trying to build up that governance capacity but also doing some agriculture, health, and other programs. And we’re now developing a longer-term strategy on it.
I might add, though, what people miss is there’s a great deal of poverty in Northern Sudan. And it’s very important when this peace process is completed and when there is peace in Darfur that the North has to engage on its own economic issues and problems. That’s why normalization is important for them so they can access the resources of the international community and help alleviate the poverty that exists in the North. So we want to see two viable states, the North and the South, because without that viability on both sides, you’re not going to have peace in that area.
MR. TONER: Dave Gollust, VOA.
QUESTION: Do you believe that the situation in Darfur has kind of languished with all the attention on the North-South issue? Can you give us sort of a status report of where things stand? And just – can you achieve your aims there without dealing directly with President Bashir?
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, first of all, watching Scott Gration over the last six months that I’ve been here, Darfur was never flagging. He was there very many times. But it’s true that a lot of international attention was on the referendum and meeting these very important milestones. But we – the Darfur problem is one of those things that has lingered so much too long. What – there has been this Doha process of peace that’s gone on for two years, didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. We’ve had a resurgence of violence in parts of Darfur.
What’s happened most recently is that the Doha process has suddenly taken on life. JEM, which is one of the big rebel groups, has now joined or rejoined the process. They’re working from the same text. President Bashir was there yesterday saying we support the Doha process, which is a step forward, because they weren’t clear on that. Dane is going out there next week. So that’s an important step. But for – that’s only one step. The government really has to come to grips with the changes that they must make to make Darfur a peaceful, successful way. And they’ve got a long way to go on that. It’s a big challenge because they just lost a big chunk of their territory in the South. How do they deal with a situation like this and what does it mean for the future of the North? But we’re not flagging on it and we’re going to give it a lot of attention.
MR. TONER: One more question? Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I want to thank my wife. She puts up with all this (inaudible). (Laughter.) Thank you all.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 marks the 63rd anniversary of Burma’s independence. We offer our congratulations to the people of Burma on this occasion.
We are unwavering in our support for an independent, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma. The United States remains prepared to improve bilateral relations, but looks to the Burmese Government to meet the aspirations of its diverse peoples by freeing all political prisoners and engaging in an inclusive and meaningful dialogue with all its citizens in pursuit of genuine national reconciliation.
We join the international community in anticipating the day when Burma’s citizens will succeed in their peaceful efforts to exercise freely their universal human rights.