» Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sudan and Darfur

Asked about the Government’s stance on Darfur following reports in the Financial Times, the PMOS said that the Financial Times had got ahead of themselves in their story. The PMOS went on to read out what the Prime Minister had said last week, "I think the issue is getting the force in there and I think that if, in the next weeks and next couple of months or so, the Sudanese government are not prepared to agree to the U.N. plan, then we’ve got to move to sanctions and we’ve got to move to tougher action. And I think we should certainly consider the option of a no-fly zone to help people in Darfur, because it’s a very, very serious situation and it’s now spilling into other countries next door. But this is not our military force, certainly, in terms of boots on the ground."

The PMOS said the important thing about what the Prime Minister had said was, of course if the Sudanese government reject the Kofi Annan plan, then you do have to think of other options, but it is only if they reject the Kofi Annan Plan; the Prime Minister also said the next weeks and couple of months are the time period in which we’re talking about.

Asked what the other options were given China’s stance on Darfur, the PMOS said rather than hypothesize about other countries positions it would be better to deal with the reality. The reality is that the situation is simply unacceptable. The reality is that the Sudanese government have been given many chances in which to respond, the reality also is that on the rebel sides there has to be responses as well. The Kofi Annan plan presented a viable way forward; what we now have to see is if the Sudanese government and rebels seize that opportunity or not. The Prime Minister is absolutely clear that this issue is not going to be allowed to gently slide away. This is a situation that must be resolved.

Asked if there was a deadline for a response from the Sudanese government, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had talked about weeks and months, it was difficult to put a precise deadline on the situation but what the Sudanese do not have is an indefinite period. This is not about the British Government position, or the US government position, but a UN world view of should happen in Sudan. There is a viable way forward and people should use that.

Asked if the Prime Minister meant by the introduction of a no fly zone, other peoples forces other than the UN’s forces, the PMOS said that certainly in terms of troops on the ground, he said explicitly that the view globally was that there was no expectation of our troops, on US troops being used. In terms of the no fly zone it would be better to get to that situation. We should not jump ahead as this would take the focus off where we should be, which is the Sudanese government and rebels groups complying with the Kofi Annan plan.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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