Incentive in Sudan talks — normalized ties with U.S.

By Helene Cooper

New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration could remove Sudan from an American list of state supporters of terrorism and normalize relations if the Sudanese government agreed, among other steps, to allow Thai and Nepalese peacekeepers in its Darfur region, says a document outlining the American negotiating position for talks with Sudan that began Wednesday.

The document was part of a series of negotiating papers exchanged between the governments in preparation for talks in Rome. They were provided to The New York Times by an American government official critical of the administration’s position.

Sudan has already promised to let U.N. peacekeepers operate within its borders, and human rights advocates and others say it would be a mistake for the United States to offer any new incentives until Sudan carries out that and other pledges.


"Given the fact that Khartoum has been involved in negotiations repeatedly over the years regarding Darfur and the comprehensive peace agreements and has signed documents and consistently failed to implement what they’ve signed, why are we discussing normalization with them?" said Roger Winter, a former Sudan negotiator at the State Department.

Richard Williamson, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, is in Rome for the talks with Sudanese officials. The broad thrust of the American position has been known, but the negotiating papers provide new details about the positions staked out by each side as they try to resolve differences over Darfur.

At least 200,000 people have been killed there since the Arab-dominated government of Sudan unleashed tribal militias known as the janjaweed on non-Arab rebel groups and civilians.

The papers show that the United States is demanding that Sudan speed up visas for humanitarian workers and allow private aid organizations to work in Darfur.

Sudan wants an end to economic sanctions imposed by the United States since 1997. Sudan complained in the negotiating papers that sanctions had continued "despite the many positive achievements" by its government in Khartoum.

In addition, Sudan wants U.S. backing for its membership in the World Trade Organization, American support for the cancellation of Sudan’s foreign debts and "the immediate release of the Sudanese detainees at Guantanamo."

Sudan is further seeking a formal apology for the Clinton administration-era strike on the Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum. It was destroyed by American cruise missiles in 1998 in the days after the terrorist attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

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