From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Jun 19 2009 - 07:49:58 EDT
Current Status of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Recent Travels
Special Envoy to Sudan
June 19, 2009
MR. KELLY: Good morning. We're very pleased to have with us today Scott
Gration. General Gration grew up in the now Democratic Republic of Congo and
Kenya. He served in the Air Force from 1974 to 2006. Among his assignments,
in 1995, he was in command of the 4404th Operations Group in Saudi Arabia.
In 1996, he was in Turkey and oversaw Operation Northern Watch, which
enforced, as you know, the no-fly zone over Iraq. Among his Pentagon
assignments, in 2000 and 2001 he was Deputy Director for Operations in the
Joint Staff in Washington and was also Director, Strategy Plans and Policy
Directorate of the United States European Command in Stuttgart. General
Gration speaks Swahili and has a Masters - well, he has a B.A. from Rutgers
and a Masters from Georgetown in National Security Studies.
General Gration was appointed as the President's Special Envoy to Sudan on
March 18, 2009, and we're very pleased to have him with us here today. He'll
make some remarks and then take a few questions.
MR. GRATION: Thank you very much for that kind introduction, and good
morning. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to share some of the
things that I've learned since becoming the Special Envoy to Sudan. I'll
tell you what we've been doing in the last three months, and then I'll give
you an idea of what we plan to do in the next few months.
Since my appointment on the 18th of March I've made three overseas trips.
The first was to Sudan, where I traveled to Darfur, Juba, Abyei, and to
Khartoum. The second was to Sudan's neighborhood, to Doha, to Cairo,
N'Djamena. The last trip was to London and Paris and
Beijing. I've learned through these trips that we need to have constructive
dialogue with the international community, with all parties in Sudan. We
need to have engagement with all parties to save lives in Sudan, to bring
about a lasting peace. More suffering in Sudan is simply unacceptable. We
need engagement to make a positive difference in Darfur. We need engagement
to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
This isn't about discussions only. It's about making a difference in the
lives of the Sudanese people. It's about getting results.
Our initial efforts to build multiple channels of dialogue have produced
some positive results. We've been able to work with the Government of Sudan
and NGOs and the United Nations to restore humanitarian assistance capacity
in Darfur. Three new NGOs are joining the international humanitarian
assistance team in Darfur. Along with that, the UN and remaining NGOs have
been able to increase their capacity. And we've essentially closed the
humanitarian gap that existed in Darfur when the 13 NGOs were expelled.
The situation remains fragile, and the short-term interventions by USAID and
its partners still need to be strengthened. The constructive dialogue will
also help us negotiate a ceasefire in Darfur so that the people living in
IDP camps and refugee camps have the opportunity to move back to a place of
their own choosing and to be able to live in safety and security and
This dialogue engagement is also helping us in the second round of the talks
in Doha, a process that's designed to produce a political settlement to
Darfur, a process that is designed to improve relations between Chad and
Sudan, and to stop the fighting and violence that has been so disruptive.
The dialogue and engagement will also be critical as we implement all the
aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Before the referendum for self-determination is held on January 2011, we
have a lot of work to do. We have to secure agreements on border
demarcations, wealth sharing, power sharing. In addition, we have to make
sure that all parties are involved to ensure that places like Abyei do not
become the next war zone in Sudan. To successfully tackle these challenges,
we need the support of the international community. We must continue to
deepen and broaden international coordination in Sudan.
One initiative in this direction is the Forum for Supporters of the CPA.
This event that will be held on the 23rd is an event where we will bring
together over 30 countries and organizations to help restore that
international commitment and to rekindle the passion that we had in Naivasha
in 2005 when the CPA was signed.
Before I take your questions, let me tell you about the tight timeline that
we have to work within. We only have eight months to get ready for the
national elections, and we only have 19 months before that referendum that
will determine the future of Abyei and of Southern Sudan. With these events
fast approaching, it's absolutely critical that we work together, that we
seize every opportunity to save lives, to facilitate a lasting peace in
Sudan, and to promote stability and security in the entire region.
I'm ready for your questions.
MR. KELLY: If you can identify yourself, too. Well, we all know who you are,
Kirit, but go ahead and identify --
QUESTION: Kirit Radia of ABC News. If I could just ask - President Bush and
his top officials always referred to the situation in Darfur as a genocide.
Not going back to define what happened in the past, would you describe what
is happening - the situation now in Darfur - as a genocide?
MR. GRATION: What we see is the remnants of genocide. What we see are the
consequences of genocide, the results of genocide. We still have thousands
of people living in camps as IDPs. We have women who are still afraid to go
out and collect firewood. And we have children that are not having the
benefits of growing up in their homeland -- that are growing up in these
So what we need to do is focus on the people. We need to correct the
situation. We need to bring a ceasefire. We need to bring a political
process. We need to bring security and safety and dignity so these people
have the right to return voluntarily to wherever they choose, and that they
can live out their lives in, as I said, safety and security and dignity.
And that's what we're aiming and we're working on building a future for
QUESTION: But the level of violence, would you describe that as genocide at
MR. GRATION: The level of violence that we're seeing right now is primarily
between rebel groups, the Sudanese Government, and as you know from the
news, we've had some violence between Chad and Sudan. The violence still
exists where bandits and Janjaweed and warlords and those kinds of folks do
conduct terrorist activities on these folks and do increase terror. But it
doesn't appear that it is a coordinated effort that was similar to what we
had in 2003 to 2006.
QUESTION: So, no.
MR. KELLY: Lach.
QUESTION: Okay. Yeah. I'm Lachlan Carmichael from AFP. During your recent
travels, you visited China. Would you say that was the key stop in your
travels and that's because you need commitments on military supplies from
them or to stop the supply of military weapons to Sudan, and that they're
key to resolving both the conflict that could reemerge in Abyei and also in
Darfur? What kind of commitments did you get during that trip?
MR. GRATION: What we're trying to do is visit all the capitals of nations
who have an interest in Sudan. And China certainly has an interest in Sudan.
They have a large investment - about $4 billion in the oil - and that oil is
in Abyei, which is on the border between the North and the South.
And what we've been able to secure with the Chinese is an understanding that
we have similar goals in Sudan. We both need security. We both need
stability. We come at it from different sides, but the end results are the
same. And so we have reached agreement to share information, to work
together, to integrate our activities on the humanitarian front. And I'm
very happy that Ambassador Liu and I have been able to develop a strong
relationship. He was with us in Doha. He will be with us on the 23rd.
QUESTION: So they gave you no commitments on weapons or linking supply of
weapons to actions that the government might be taking -- the Sudanese
MR. GRATION: We didn't spend a great deal of time discussing those issues.
MR. KELLY: Charlie.
QUESTION: Charlie Wolfson with CBS. Can you describe the discussions you've
had with the Government in Khartoum, and how responsive they were, if at
all, and whether - and to the extent they're worried about the genocide and
other legal actions taken against them?
MR. GRATION: Our main efforts in negotiations and discussions and dialogue
with the Khartoum Government were initially over the return of the NGOs. Our
position was that we would like to have all the expelled NGOs returned. And
we've been happy to see that through a period of discussion, we now have
three new NGOs returning to Sudan, and they have taken steps to improve the
operating environment for international NGOs in terms of visas, in terms of
technical agreements, and in terms of making the operations more effective.
So we are pleased to see that the words that they have given us have turned
into deeds, and that's what we're holding them accountable to do.
QUESTION: And what about the other expelled NGOs? You said three new ones?
MR. GRATION: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: So none of the expelled NGOs have returned. What's the status of
MR. GRATION: It appears that the 13 NGOs that were expelled will not be
allowed back into the country. But you should note that right now, we are
near a hundred percent capacity returned. We have - on the food side, we're
providing the same food resources as we were prior to expulsion, a hundred
percent. And in the WASH, which is water, sanitation and hygiene, we're at
about 95 percent, and the other services about a hundred.
Now I must say that some of this is being done through emergency methods. In
other words, it's not sustainable. But with the new NGOs that are going back
in right now, we believe we'll be able to sustain these operations and
actually get more capacity than we had on the third and the fourth when
these were expelled.
MR. KELLY: Yes. Can you identify yourself?
QUESTION: Bill Varner with Bloomberg News. It's been reported that the level
of violence in Southern Sudan, North-South violence, is now greater than
that in Darfur. Is that your view, your observation from what you've seen?
And also, what is the linkage, if any, between the expectation that Sudan
will increase its oil output to 600,000 barrels a day by the end of the year
and a million by 2015, the rising oil prices, and perhaps the increased
level of violence in Southern Sudan where most of the oil is?
MR. GRATION: Yes. The reason that we're spending so much time on border
demarcation, on wealth sharing, just grazing rights, and where the - and how
we're going to have that border, it's really not up to us, but we're trying
to create an environment where the North and the South can resolve these
issues, because you're exactly right. As the production increases, as the
value of the oil and the other commodities that are possibly under the
ground yet to be discovered, as these issues and the value of these products
goes up, obviously, the tensions can increase. So what we're doing is we're
going to be holding trilateral talks to allow these governments to work
through these issues, and we'd like to get resolution in the very near
As you know, the Abyei arbitration is coming out in July. And so the
timeline for these discussions is very, very short. And so United States and
the rest of the international community is doing what we can to help create
an environment where these issues can be looked at and resolved in a way
that's mutually beneficial to both the North and the South.
QUESTION: And just to follow up, I mean, is it your observation that the
level of violence and the North-South violence is now outstripping Darfur?
And is your observation that whatever you observe about the level of
violence, it is related to resources?
MR. GRATION: I will say that the level of violence is greater, and we've
seen an uptick in violence in the South. It's very difficult at this time to
exactly attribute it to the resources, but it is very concerning to us.
MR. KELLY: Yes, Mary Beth.
QUESTION: Could you give us kind of a sense of context about the meeting -
I'm sorry, Mary Beth Sheridan from The Washington Post - a sense of context
about the meeting next week? I mean, when was the last time there was this
type gathering? You know, what are you hoping comes out of that?
MR. GRATION: Yes. As far as I know, there have been hard task meetings.
There have been meetings to coordinate donor contributions and those kinds
of things. But as far as I know, this is probably the first meeting at this
level and of this type. At least I'm not aware of any others in the past.
But it's probably appropriate that it is happening now, because we are now
approaching the point where we need to get into the sprint mode, where we
need to get everybody together coordinated on the same sheet of music. So
it's probably appropriate that it is happening now, and there probably was
not a requirement for this kind of meeting earlier.
So that's what we're trying to do right now, is to get the folks together,
the team together, and do that final surge so that we can get the national
elections done. Within the CPA, there's requirements for the international
community to participate as monitors and to take an active role. And of
course, that process is - it's going to be the same process that we'll be
using for the referendum, the referendum that will allow the people of Abyei
and the people of Southern Sudan to decide whether they want to be a unified
country or an independent country.
MR. KELLY: Daniel Dombey from Financial Times.
QUESTION: A very general question, and I apologize if you've had to deal
with this before. Can you mark out anything that distinguishes this
Administration's approach to Darfur specifically from the previous
Administration? I mean, we sporadically heard talk of a no-fly zone being
contemplated in the previous administration, seems to be a more emollient
line in this Administration, or is that wrong?
MR. GRATION: Our focus right now is to save lives. We have a situation where
the lives of many people are at risk, whether they're in Darfur or whether
they're in the three areas of Southern Kordofan, Abyei, and the Blue Nile.
We want to make sure that this situation is stabilized, and so we're taking
efforts to make sure that the humanitarian assistance is there, that we're
able to facilitate and help coordinate a ceasefire, an end of hostilities,
and then we want to make sure that there's political processes in place in
Darfur and these other places, so the will of the people can be brought and
so that they can have democratic principles and mechanisms.
That's what we're working on right now, and we're using all methods to
accomplish this, whether they be carrots and whether they be sticks.
QUESTION: Just to --
MR. KELLY: One - okay, go ahead, Dan.
QUESTION: Yeah, sorry. Just to follow up on that, does that mean that
essentially, it's a continuity with the last administration, or would you
say it's - you're actually standing out by taking an eminently practical
MR. GRATION: What we're doing is making sure that we are value-added to the
situation. And so there's things that the last administration were doing
that we're continuing, and there's also things that are new and - in terms
of our approach. What we want to do is get results. What we cannot tolerate
is the continuing lack of human rights that we're seeing, the lack of
conditions that we want those people to live in. And so what we're doing is
taking a look at all the elements of national power that we can bring to
bear to get results to change that situation, so that the people in Sudan
have a brighter future, have more stability, more security, dignity, and
MR. KELLY: Last question. We'll go back to Kirit.
QUESTION: A two-part question that are related, actually. Your predecessor
seemed to focus more as Sudan envoy on the Darfur problem. You've spoken
more about the CPA and the problems with North-South. Do you think - would
you describe that as your main focus right now? Do you see that as more of
the powder keg?
And similarly, there's been a lot of criticism from some on the Hill, mainly
from Congressional Black Caucus, that not enough is being done for Darfur.
Do you think that is a misplaced concern?
MR. GRATION: What I would say is that we've realized in the trips that I've
made that this is a situation where we can look at things in series. We're
going to have to parallel process. We're going to have to work Darfur as
hard as we can. And that's why we're working hard to resolve the tensions
between Chad and Sudan, because it impacts on Darfur. That's why we're
totally engaged in Doha and why I've made several trips there, and why I've
put my full support behind the AU and the UN mediation and the efforts that
the Qatar Government are doing.
This is why we're working hard with the Government of Sudan and the rebel
groups to do the prisoner exchanges and those things that are preventing us
from getting the peace and stability that we seek. At the same time, we have
to work very hard on Southern Sudan. As the CPA is winding down, there are
things that must be done, but there's also development work and other
aspects that we must focus on - the things we've talked about in the three
areas. In addition to that, the neighborhood. There's things that we need to
My point is that our approach is very comprehensive. Our approach is
integrated. Our approach is one where we do multiple things at the same
time, just because our timeline is so short and the challenges are so great
that we no longer can have the luxury to segment and focus on one thing and
then switch to the other. We must work all these at the same time in an
integrated way where all parties are part of the solution, where the
international community comes together in a unified way to bring about the
results that we all seek.
MR. KELLY: Okay, thank you very much.
MR. GRATION: Thank you.
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