Washington, DC – On November 5, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) arrived in Sudan for his second round of discussions with Sudanese leaders to help persuade the North to accept a peaceful division of the country if the South votes to secede on January 9.
Chairman Kerry issued the following statement upon departure:
"Over the past several days, I had a very productive series of meetings in Sudan. At this pivotal moment in the peace process, President Obama asked me to meet with Sudanese leaders, including South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Ali Osman Taha, to convey America's strong commitment to achieving lasting peace for the people of Sudan. The Obama administration is focused intensely on this issue, and I was pleased to be accompanied on the trip by General Scott Gration, the President's Special Envoy for Sudan, and Michelle Gavin, a senior member of the National Security Council staff.
"Sudan now has the opportunity to define itself for the world and create a better, more peaceful, and more prosperous future for all the Sudanese people. President Obama made clear in the proposal conveyed this weekend that if Sudan's leaders take concrete steps to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including recognizing the results of the referendum in January, he is prepared to immediately take significant steps to begin to transform the bilateral relationship. This would be the beginning of a new roadmap for addressing key bilateral issues as post-referendum issues are resolved.
"Darfur remains a critical issue to the U.S. relationship with the government and to the future of Sudan. I made clear in every meeting that many steps on the road to improved relations could only be taken with real progress in achieving lasting peace and security in Darfur.
"The United States stands ready to help, but the choices necessary to move forward ultimately lie with the Sudanese leaders. I believe a broad agreement is within reach if they act with the sense of urgency that is necessary to seize this historic opportunity."