Abul-Gheit tells US envoy to avoid escalation with Sudan

Alaa Shahine
3 Min Read


CAIRO: Egypt said on Friday it had warned Andrew Natsios, the new US special envoy to Sudan, against the dangers of seeking confrontation with Khartoum over the Darfur crisis as he began his first visit to the African country.

Instead, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit told Natsios during a telephone conversation on Thursday that Washington should seek common ground with Sudan over a UN Security Council resolution that authorizes the deployment of 20,000 UN troops in war-torn Darfur, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sudan is under heightened US-led pressure to accept the UN force, which Washington says is essential to stop the violence that has killed more than 200,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes since it flared in 2003.And Natsios, who arrived in Khartoum on Friday, has said his goal would be trying to convince the government, and particularly President Omar Al-Bashir, to accept the UN military presence.

Al-Bashir rejects the UN resolution as an attempt to restore colonial rule, but has welcomed the world body s logistical and financial support to the ill-equipped 7,000-strong African Union force, which has failed to stop the violence. The minister [Abul-Gheit] warned in his conversation with the US envoy against the dangers of the continuation of the policy of escalation and confrontation with Khartoum, the ministry s statement said.

He noted the benefit of discussing alternatives and options that focuses on implementing the accepted and undisputed parts of the [UN Security Council] resolution 1706, it added without elaboration.

Egypt has said any agreement on implementing the UN resolution should take into account Khartoum s reservations. It has also blamed the increasing violence in Darfur on the rebel groups that refused to sign a peace agreement in May.

The only signatories were the government and one faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, which took up arms in 2003 to demand a greater share of power for Darfur, a vast region in northern Sudan. Other rebel groups said the deal was inadequate.

Natsios, who was appointed in his post last month by US President George W. Bush, was expected to visit Darfur and Juba, the capital of southern Sudan.

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