October 25, 2010

During Chairman Kerry's Visit, Sudanese Government Pledges To Abide By Outcome Of Referendum

KHARTOUM, SUDAN – During a three-day trip to Sudan, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) had productive, in-depth meetings with senior government leaders in Juba and Khartoum.  Today, a resolution from the government of Sudan pledging to abide by the outcome of the referendum was presented to the Chairman.  The resolution also vowed that the Sudanese government would cooperate with its neighbors to the south on a wide range of economic, political, and security issues.  This commitment is now being transmitted to the Obama administration.

Departing Sudan this evening, Chairman Kerry issued the following statement:

“The resolution handed to me by the Sudanese government represents one of many positive steps down the road to January 9 and to stability in the future.  Another milestone is looming even sooner: next week negotiations are scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa under the auspices of President Mbeki and the African Union.  These talks are a tremendous opportunity to resolve key issues and lay the foundation for a new economic and political future.  I believe Addis Ababa is a significant opportunity for progress and both sides affirmed their desire--indeed their commitment--to make it successful.

“Obviously, there are challenges and time is short. The referendum set out by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is just weeks away. But one thing is clear from my talks: all parties are committed to making the North-South referendum take place on January 9.  I believe that it can be achieved if everyone involved stays focused and acts in good faith.

“This is a critical moment in the history of Sudan, one that the world is watching and one that will be remembered as a turning point.  Listening to these leaders and negotiators, I have come away convinced that we have an opportunity to change the course of events here.  The people of Sudan have experienced human suffering on a tragic scale and our job, all of us, is to make sure that never happens again.”

During the trip, Chairman Kerry met with members of the international community, including President Mbeki and the members of his African Union High Level Panel on Sudan.  He also met with senior diplomats of many countries and with the leaders of humanitarian organizations.

Chairman Kerry has traveled to Sudan twice since assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In April 2009, he traveled to Khartoum and to an internally displaced persons camp in Darfur.  Chairman Kerry is also the author of the bipartisan Sudan Peace and Stability Act of 2010, which reasserts the U.S. commitment to working toward peace throughout Sudan.  Earlier this month, he published an op-ed titled, “Diplomacy Urgent As Vote To Split Sudan Nears."

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