Wednesday, March 14, 2007

U.S. prepares to sanction Sudanese companies

Source: CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's envoy to Sudan said Wednesday the administration is preparing to impose new economic sanctions because of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's refusal to allow U.N. peacekeepers to deploy to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

Pending Bush's final approval, envoy Andrew Natsios said, Sudanese companies will be subject to sanctions, and international transactions involving U.S. dollars will be blocked.

"I don't want to presuppose the decision that the president is going to make," he said. "It is pretty clear the president is angrier than anyone else. He gets very upset when he talks to me about the situation. He gets very frustrated by it."

Later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the world will have to consider new options, possibly further action by the United Nations.

"Of course the international community is going to have to look at other options. We are, indeed, looking at other options, including options that might require further U.N. action," Rice told reporters after a discussion at the State Department with Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

"It's simply the case that the Sudanese government needs to recognize that the international community can't stand idly by while people suffer, while we're unable to deliver humanitarian assistance to people and while the violence against innocent civilians continues," Rice said.

Natsios spoke during a telephone conference call in which officials from humanitarian groups and other non-governmental organizations participated.

Al-Bashir made known his disapproval of the U.N. plan in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, details of which emerged earlier this week. Under the plan, a hybrid U.N.-African Union force totaling 22,000 military and civilian personnel would be deployed in Darfur.

"I was stunned by the letter," Natsios said, adding it was practically an invitation by al-Bashir to "sanction us, come after us."

Over the past four years, some 200,000 Darfurians have died and more than 2.5 million been displaced from their homes because of civil strife. The United States blames mostly the Sudanese government and government-backed militias for the "genocidal" situation.

Scenes of suffering in the region have produced an outpouring of concern and demands for international action to protect and provide for the victims.

The humanitarian situation is so grave that some members of Congress have recommended U.S. military action. But that idea appears to have scant support.

Though Darfur has seen repeated civil strife over the years, the violence of the past four years has been extraordinary.

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