Robert B. Zoellick With First Vice President Sudan
Remarks With the First Vice President of the Government of National Unity of Sudan Salva Kiir After Their Meeting
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
November 1, 2005
(5:05 p.m. EST)
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Thank you for joining us. I just finished a long session with First Vice President Kiir. We've spent over a couple of hours talking about the developments in standing up the Government of Southern Sudan; about the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord; and also conditions in Darfur.
The Vice President had an opportunity to meet earlier with Vice President Cheney, also with Secretary Rice. Tomorrow, he'll have a meeting with some members of Congress. And as I told him and his colleagues, I'm very appreciative that they could take the time to come to Washington because I know there are enormous demands on his time and his colleagues' time.
I will be going out to Sudan next week and we'll be visiting Khartoum, Darfur and also Juba, where the Government of Southern Sudan is being stood up.
And so this gave me an excellent opportunity to talk to the First Vice President about developments on the ground, ways we can cooperate and help one another. And I also had an opportunity to talk with Vice President Taha today because I've been pressing for some of the steps to implement the Comprehensive Peace Accord and some of the issues with Darfur.
And so it was -- I think we're seeing some positive steps but that's what I wanted to talk to the Vice President about.
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT KIIR: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, good evening. As you have heard, we have been in many meeting and I have no reason again to comment on the people that I have met today because he has already said them. And we have talked about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement -- that is the CPA. And the issue of Darfur you all know about what is happening in Darfur. And so we are delighted to be here today in the State Department and all of you have been following about the development in Sudan and our visit here, of course, I came here in my capacity as the President of the Government of Southern Sudan.
Of course, I'm the First Vice President of the Sudan, but that was not the first thing that I came here. I came here to explain to the Government of the United States the development of our things after the tragic death of our leader, Dr. Garang, and this is our first mission to America.
Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: We'll take a couple of questions. Here. Yes.
QUESTION: Sue Pleming from Reuters. Did you discuss the issue of lifting sanctions against Sudan maybe -- and if so, would you be looking at the issue of lifting partial sanction -- of lifting some and having a partial lifting of sanctions?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: What we reviewed was the fact that the sanctions were put on originally because of the strong hostile reaction to the policies of the Government of Sudan in a number of areas. And the key is to show a new path as has been set out through the Comprehensive Peace Accord; but also now in the areas of Darfur. So we need to see ongoing results before we can see any changes in those policies.
One of the items that we talked about today and that I talked about with Vice President Taha was the need to establish the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, which is the capstone of the CPA process. And Vice President Taha told me today that that was going to be set up and they would accept the Norwegian, Mr. Vraalsen as the chair of that process.
If that happens, that's a good step. They also talked -- he also mentioned about setting up the National Petroleum Commission. We talked about the Boundary Commission, which is vital. But there are other steps that have to be followed through and these steps while a positive sign are requirements under the CPA and there are many others that have to be implemented along the way.
Similarly, I talked about the problems of the increase in violence in Darfur. In here, we've been urging the government to accept some Canadian armored personnel carriers to support the African Union forces and I was told today that those should be moving forward but I haven't been able to confirm that.
So there are a number of items that we want to try to see progress on and that's one reason that I'm going to Sudan is to try to make sure that the policies that are represented under the Comprehensive Peace Accord are on track and that all the parties are undertaking it. I also hope to meet some of the rebel groups from Darfur to ensure that they come together in a unified position because in the problems of Darfur, it's not just a question of providing security or humanitarian support but eventually moving to some peace accord. And as you know, there have been some discussions in Abuja but part of -- is to make sure that the various rebel groups come together effectively in those negotiations.
So I think we have more progress to go before we could go to take any of the actions you mentioned.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: First Vice President, would you like to comment on the issue of sanctions and whether you believe they should be lifted?
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT KIIR: Well, I will have no comment because what he said is what we have talked about. And because the sanctions were imposed for the reasons and it needs time for us to go and sit down. I cannot comment on it and we'll talk about them next time.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Yes.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on your first trip to Sudan you put great hope in the African Union as a way to deal with the violence and since then we've seen a rather dramatic increase in the number of African Union troops, yet the violence has gotten worse. I'm wondering why that is, what you think is going on there? And how much of this violence can the government be blamed for and how much the anti-government rebels?
And if I can to Mr. President, how much control do you think you have or influence sway do you have over those anti-government rebels in Darfur?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Why don't I start and then you can answer the second part.
As the UN reported, the expansion of the AU mission over the course of the past year, plus other factors did stop some of the large-scale violence. What I think you're referring to is in the past couple of weeks you've had an upswing of some actions that, frankly, involves various parties. There's some reports of rebels, there's some reports of Janjaweed, there's some reports of government forces, all of which is to go to one of the reasons why we want to further strengthen the African Union capabilities. As you mentioned, they're now up to, I think, some 6,000 personnel; when we were there they were probably 2400. This allows them to cover more area, but one of the reasons that I've been pressing to have the government permit the armored personnel carriers is these forces are still vulnerable and they also don't have the mobility. So this is to try to strengthen the African Union's capability.
But as I answered to the first question, you can never really secure this area until you create a peace accord and so these are holding actions to try to minimize the conditions of violence. One of the other topics that Secretary Rice pressed when she was there and I talked about it again with Vice President Taha today and I talked about with First Vice President Kiir is some of our initiatives to deal with violence against women, so those are actions to try to alleviate terrible conditions. But to solve them you have to have the peace accord and that's why what we're continuing to try to do is, now that the SPLM is part of the government, the First Vice President has had discussions about trying to come together with a unified position for the Government of National Unity, which I hope will help in the process. That's one reason why I want to try to bring the rebel groups together in the process. And the African Union has been doing a pretty good in terms of the mediation of those topics along the way.
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT KIIR: Well, the other part of your question as to whether we have control and how much control we have over the forces in Darfur. SPLM joined the Government of National Unity in September when the government was setup. And of course, we, as the Government of -- in the center, are responsible for everybody in Sudan. What has not been completed so far is the issue of peace in Darfur. We have not yet been involved in the situation of Darfur because we have not agreed, as the partners of the agreement, that is the National Congress Party and the SPLM, have not agreed on a common position of how to approach the situation of Darfur.
And this is why SPLM was not represented in the talks in the last round in Abuja. But now that we have agreed in principle that we will put up a joint delegation, representing the Government of National Unity for the next round of talks in Abuja, I think we will be in a position to contribute effectively to the solution in Darfur. Of course, saying so will not be enough unless we put it into practice. And we are sure if the fighting groups in Darfur come together as one opposition group and come with one position to the Abuja talks, I believe we also will come in with one position as a government so that we have an offer to them that what made them to fight was the reason and if we find out the reason that led them to fight the government, I think we can find a solution.
In the same way when we were fighting and we were negotiating with the government of the day in Khartoum, we give them reasons that led us to take up arms against the state. And so the mediators came in to find out that we had a case and so a solution was found. We believe that the same thing will happen to Darfur.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: We'll take one more.
QUESTION: Yes. This is for Mr. Secretary and Mr. President. Upon the tragic death of John Garang, the government of President Bashir kind of re-expressed its commitment to implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, although there was some concern that perhaps -- and his untimely death -- that the commitment of President Bashir would wane. What is your assessment as to the good faith of the government of President Bashir working in the Government of National Unity to implement this peace agreement? Do you think there's a waning of that commitment upon this tragedy? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, first, let me say a word about Dr. Garang's death. As anybody who's involved with this issue knows, he was a heroic and larger-than-life figure. It's not surprising that his death would be a terrible blow psychologically and also to the process.
One reason that I'm very delighted that First Vice President Kiir has come also in his capacity as President of the Government of Southern Sudan is that he had a quite established record as senior military commander and political support for Dr. Garang and we very much appreciate the efforts that he has made, that of his colleagues, Rebecca Garang, to keep the process on track to fulfill the vision of Dr. Garang because that is what is at stake in this process. And that's one reason part of our conversations were how the United States can help as the Government of Southern Sudan stands itself up.
We've got aid missions there. We're trying to help with security sector reform. There's a broad set of activities that we need to try to do and others need to try to do to help a courageous leadership, still moving through a very difficult period, but I think doing a pretty good job.
As for the Congress Party and the Government in Khartoum, President Bashir, the point that I have made to you in my calls with Vice President Taha is, is that some of the -- the outbreak of additional violence in Darfur, the slowdown in some of the follow through on the CPA started to raise doubts about the commitment to the CPA. And I urged Vice President Taha and his colleagues that if they remain committed to the CPA, as they say they are, that they have to take the actions to back those words. And so in that sense, the call I had today was useful in that some of the key institutions are starting to get set up and this will give me a chance to pursue that further when I'm there.
So the bottom line is that actions are what will determine the fulfillment of the CPA and what will determine whether we can improve conditions in Darfur and eventually reach a peace accord. So what I've been trying to do with all the parties is stress the actions that have to be taken and that's how we will judge this.
QUESTION: Mr. President?
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT KIIR: We all remain committed to the implementation of the CPA, SPLM and National Congress Party. We are moving slowly but to the right direction that we are implementing the CPA. Of course, when we lost Dr. Garang nobody expected that the movement, that is SPLM, would remain united as it was under Dr. John Garang. But that was our first mission to make sure that we stabilized the movement and maintained its unity so that it doesn't effect the peace agreement, which we signed with the National Congress Party.
After having consolidated ourselves, we now turn to other institutions and so we have, first of all, to establish the National Assembly and then the Council of the State. Then formation of the Government of National Unity in Khartoum and then establishment of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly and followed by the formation of the Government of Southern Sudan. Now, we are done with other institutions to be formed in Southern Sudan, like the state governments, the state assemblies and done the (inaudible).
At the national level, of course, we have established now some commissions we were mentioned by Deputy Secretary Zoellick and we will continue to implement what we are supposed to do so that we catch up with the time because the time schedule, we are behind a bit our time is scheduled, but by doubling up, I think, we'll meet the deadline for the implementation of the CPA.
QUESTION: Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Okay, thank you very much.