Today, Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration gave a briefing at the State Department on his recent visit to Juba and Khartoum. In this time of intensified diplomacy ahead of the January 2011 referenda, Special Envoy Gration made his 20th official trip to Sudan last weekend, had meetings in Khartoum and in Juba, and laid out for authorities in both capitals U.S.' expectations for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Special Envoy Gration said, "We seek a definitive end to the conflict in Darfur, to the gross human rights abuses, to the genocide that has existed there. And we seek to make sure that Sudan never again becomes a haven for international terrorists.
"The South has fought for 40 years for this opportunity to express their will in the referendum. The last 22 years they were at war ended when the CPA was signed. And they look forward to the referendum that will occur on the 9th of January of 2011. The North, on the other hand, is looking at losing 80 percent of its oil -- or oil reserves, 50 percent of the oil revenues, to a third of their land, and to 30 percent of their population. So they're still seeking to make unity attractive.
"So you can see that there's a tension between the North and the South. With only 114 days left before the referendum, there's a lot of work that has to be done, and this is really a make-or-break period for Sudan. And we must ensure that the parties make those tough decisions to find agreements, to implement those things that have to be done so that there can be a peaceful and an on-time referendum, and also to avoid the potential for war.
"The Obama Administration has been working very hard to implement our strategy. We've elevated our diplomatic efforts, and we're working with other nations, with the United Nations, African Union, the European Union, and other multilateral organizations to get done all those things that have to be done. We're making significant investments on the ground to prepare for whatever happens after the referenda. And we're presenting the parties with actions that they can take and we're incentivizing them.
"Specifically, President Obama has agreed to participate in the high-level meetings, especially the one that's hosted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the 24th of September. And this will bring high-level attention and focus on Sudan. Vice President Biden has also been engaged in Sudan. He traveled to Africa and engaged with leaders throughout the continent, and even the delegation from Southern Sudan, to make the points known about a free and fair, transparent referendum. And he urged the parties to do what they needed to do to make this happen.
"Secretary Clinton has been involved in the entire time that I've been the envoy to Sudan. Most recently, she called Vice President Kiir and Vice President Taha to invite them to UNGA and to meetings there, and also to encourage them to take the steps that they need to take to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur and implement the CPA. General Jones just called these individuals again yesterday to reinforce the themes that I presented last weekend.
"We now have onboard Ambassador Princeton Lyman, a very seasoned diplomat, a respected negotiator, who will be the head of our U.S. negotiation support unit in Sudan. As many of you know, we've expanded our capacity in the South, and Ambassador Barrie Walkley is heading that effort as we build the capacity so that we can help Southern Sudan build its capacity. Ambassador Susan Rice has really been involved in helping bring together the United Nations and the nations represented there in full alignment with our goals and policies in the region.
."..We're making continued investments in Sudan, and our hope and belief is that we can have a referendum on time, one that's peaceful, but it's certainly going to take the parties doing their job and it's going to take the international community working together with the parties to make sure this gets pulled off."
You can read the full briefing here.