About the Author: Tim Shortley is the Senior Representative for Sudan at the U.S. Department of State. Read Mr. Shortley's previous entry from New York.
I just wanted to send a quick update on my meetings in New York and my recent travel to Sudan.
First, about New York: The USG delivered a strong message to the Sudanese government – we need to see positive changes on the ground in Darfur. This message was carried by Secretary of State Rice, the President’s Special Envoy for Sudan Richard Williamson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, and me. I also met with UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) officials. UN Under-Secretary Le Roy and Under-Secretary Malcorra briefed us on their efforts to have 60 percent of the 26,000 peacekeepers for the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on the ground by the end of the year and 80 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2009. We also discussed U.S. readiness to begin an airlift operation to support UNAMID, which would provide for moving equipment from El Obeid and El Fasher to El Geneina for new UNAMID troops. We are also sending out feelers through our embassies abroad to potential troop- and police-contributing countries to shore up their UNAMID contributions.
On Sudan: My trip to Sudan last week with Special Envoy Richard Williamson was a solid step in moving things forward, particularly on Darfur. The Sudanese announced their intention to hold a "Sudanese People’s Initiative" on the Darfur peace process (which opened Thursday, October 16), followed by a week of discussions with Sudan’s political parties in an effort to finalize a Darfur peace package. The initiative could provide us with an early framework for negotiations between the Government and the Darfur rebels. The day before we arrived in Sudan, Vice President Taha and First Vice President Kiir agreed on the members of the Abyei Administration, representing a step in the implementation of the Abyei Roadmap. We will continue to help drive these processes.