U.S. envoy leaves for Sudan

Other News Materials 1 April 2009 02:07 (UTC +04:00)

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's envoy for Sudan Scott Gration will leave for Khartoum later in the day in a bid, among others, to persuade Sudan's government to allow aid groups back into war-torn Darfur, Xinhua reported.

In addition to the capital of Khartoum, Gration's maiden trip to Sudan will also take him to western Darfur, southern city of Juba, and oil town of Abyei before "returning to Khartoum for meetings with government officials," State Department deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid told a news briefing.
"He will meet with a wide range of interlocutors, particularly those who are empowered to make policy decisions that can try and put Sudan on the path to a peace," he said.

The spokesman declined to be specific about the people whom Gration, a retired air force general, is going to meet with.
Instead, he urged the Sudanese government to allow the non- governmental organizations (NGO) that were expelled in early March to be back into the Darfur region.

"We have to work on a mechanism to get the NGOs back in country, to get the aid flowing again without disruption," Duguid said.
Sudan expelled 13 NGOs in response to the International Criminal Court's issue of the arrest warrant for President Omar al- Bashir on March 4 for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

U.S. President Barack Obama named Gration as his special envoy to Sudan two weeks after Khartoum expelled humanitarian relief groups from the Darfur region.

"Sudan is a priority for this administration, particularly at a time when it cries out for peace and for justice," Obama said in a statement. "The worsening humanitarian crisis there makes our task all the more urgent."

Gration, a Swahili-speaking Air Force officer, grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries.