OSLO, April 11 -- In a new drive to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, the Bush administration plans to pledge financial support for the accord that ended Sudan's long-running civil war in January. As a condition of that aid, however, it will request evidence that the Khartoum government is responding to international pressure on Darfur, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick said Monday.
Briefing reporters as he flew here for a conference that aims to raise money in support of the north-south agreement, Zoellick said the myriad conflicts in Africa's largest country involved "layer upon layer of complexity" and appeared to defy easy solutions. He acknowledged that combinations of encouragement and pressure had proved unsuccessful in the past, but he said the signing of the peace deal, which gave the southern part of Sudan religious and political autonomy, represented an opportunity for movement.
"The fact of life is that if the situation doesn't improve in Darfur, I don't think we and the Europeans and others will be able to maintain support for working with this government," Zoellick said. He added that U.S. officials had also informed rebel leaders that the recent passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the International Criminal Court to investigate charges of genocide in Darfur did not give them "a free pass to increase the violence."
The two-decade civil war, which pitted the Islamic government in the north against rebels based in the mostly animist and Christian south, left 2 million people dead, primarily from famine and disease, and 4 million homeless. Tens of thousands have died in the past year in an unrelated conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, in which the government and a militia it supports have terrorized the region to thwart a separate rebel movement.
Later this week, Zoellick will visit Khartoum, the capital, and Rumbek, the regional capital of southern Sudan, to meet with senior officials charged with implementing the accord. He will also travel to Darfur to meet with aid workers at a refugee camp and assess a peacekeeping mission supported by the African Union. Zoellick said he was exploring the possibility of NATO providing logistical support for the African Union force as it increases from nearly 2,300 to 7,700 later this year.
Both sides have fallen behind in implementing the January agreement as they bicker over a pledge to share Sudan's oil riches. U.S. officials say they plan to ask about reports that the southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, gave a start-up firm, White Nile Ltd., an oil concession that had been earmarked by the government for another company. Some analysts have expressed fears the oil dispute could unravel the peace agreement.
Zoellick said the U.N. Security Council resolution on possible genocide charges would add to the pressure on Khartoum.
He said he would announce Tuesday that the United States will provide $1 billion to $2 billion over the next year to support the north-south agreement. The United Nations has estimated Sudan needs $1.5 billion for humanitarian purposes in 2005, and U.N. officials and the World Bank have estimated about $2.6 billion in aid will be needed over the next three years to build institutions and reduce poverty.
Congress has already appropriated about $850 million for aid to all of Sudan in 2005 and 2006, and the White House has requested another $880 million.