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As Sudan Ends Aid Deal, Rice Says If Not Cooperate, "We Have To Take It Up"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 8 -- It was on US election day that Sudan's government declared "terminated" the tripartite agreement with the UN, African Union and Arab League to provide humanitarian access and aid to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

  On Thursday morning in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice again about the tripartite agreement, and Khartoum saying it is over.

  Ambassador Rice told Inner City Press, "Obviously they've resisted all along, in a way that's nothing new. The imperative remains that there's got to be humanitarian access... and if they don't want to do that in a cooperative way, we're going to have to take that up."

   The Security Council had a meeting about Libya into which Ambassador Rice was rushing, so it was not possible to determine if the "we" to take up humanitarian access is the Security Council, which has yet to even speak on the issue of Abyei going "off track," of the re-elected US administration.

   On November 7, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about Sudan ending the tripartite agreement:

Inner City Press: the Sudanese Government has announced that it is ending this tripartite agreement that was to have provided humanitarian aid to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States that the UN was a party to. They blamed the rebels for it, but in any case, they are saying that it is over. Is there a UN response to that? Do they think the program should go forward? What do they say about it?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, not just the United Nations, but the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab States are concerned about the reports in the media that quote the Sudanese Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs as saying that the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on humanitarian aid will not be extended. The Tripartite members -- in other words, the UN, the African Union and the League of Arab States -- have requested an extension of the Memorandum of Understanding, so that they can continue working on the initiative with the Government of Sudan and with the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] North to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian aid reaches civilians affected by the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States. And the UN and its humanitarian partners stand ready to provide life-saving assistance to all people affected by the conflict, when the security situation permits. So, just to reiterate, the Tripartite Members have requested an extension and stand ready to provide assistance when they can.

   Would Sudan be more likely to grant an extension, or access, if the UN Security Council or US administration speaks? Watch this site.

   Footnote: in Thursday's Security Council meeting, new UN envoy to Libya Mitri described pro-US rallies in Benghazi after the deadly September 11 attack on the US consulate, but he did not opine in any way on the roots of the attack. This is callled diplomacy -- or deference to the US. But from Sudan on Kordofan? We'll see.

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