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Rice And Annan On Darfur

The United Nations has again called on the government of Sudan to allow in a U-N peacekeeping force to replace African Union peacekeepers in the western Darfur region. In late August, the U-N Security Council authorized a force of more than twenty-two thousand troops and police. Sudan has refused to allow the U-N force to be deployed.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Sudanese government's attitude will mean "yet more death and suffering, perhaps on a catastrophic scale," for the people of Sudan. "But the government itself will also suffer," Mr. Annan said, "if it fails in its sacred responsibility to protect its own people."

More than two-hundred thousand people have died from war and starvation in Darfur, and Mr. Annan said nearly two million have been displaced. The security situation has considerably worsened since the signing in May of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the largest rebel group. In the past two months, twelve international humanitarian aid workers have been killed. Mr. Annan said the U.N. and non-governmental organizations will have to drastically scale back their humanitarian operations in Darfur if the security situation does not improve.

"Can the international community, having not done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch as this tragedy deepens? Can we contemplate failing yet another test? Lessons are either learned or not; principles are either upheld or scorned. This is no time for the middle ground of half-measures or further debate."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she informed Sudan's government "in the strongest possible terms" that "any hope for bettering relations between the United States and Sudan rests on Sudan's cooperation with the United Nations Security Council resolution."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.