Sudan: U.S. Partner or Genocidal Government? Some senators want to know why the United States calls Sudan a "strong partner in the war on terror," while at the same time accusing Khartoum of carrying out a genocide in Darfur.
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Sudan: U.S. Partner or Genocidal Government?

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Sudan: U.S. Partner or Genocidal Government?

Sudan: U.S. Partner or Genocidal Government?

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Senator Ron Wyden is a Democrat from Oregon on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He and three of his colleagues on that committee have some questions for America's top spy chief about Sudan.

RON WYDEN: I and the other senators are trying to make sense of the administration's policy as it relates to two key areas: the fight against terrorism and of course, steps that are going to be taken to deal with the horrible, horrible genocide in Darfur.

KELEMEN: State Department spokesman Tom Casey explained it this way.

TOM CASEY: Countries can, in fact, actually do positive things in one area even while they're doing extremely negative things in another. But the point of the matter is there's never been a decision taken to begin a review of Sudan's status as a state sponsor of terror. And I'm not aware of any plans to begin such a review now.

KELEMEN: Senator Wyden, who's meeting with the director of National Intelligence next week, says he hopes to hear some examples of this. He'll also ask why another portion of the terrorism report has changed - the description of al-Qaida activities in Sudan, where Osama bin Laden once lived.

WYDEN: The 2005 report states there's no indication that al-Qaida elements have had a presence in Sudan with the knowledge and consent of the Sudanese government for at least the past five years. The 2006 report includes no similar statement. So what the senators want to know from the head of the national intelligence community is has the assessment about al-Qaida in Sudan changed?

KELEMEN: As to how the U.S. can strike a balance, being tough on Sudan when it comes to Darfur while maintaining cooperation on terrorism issues, the State Department simply pointed to comments made last December by the administration's envoy, Andrew Natsios.

ANDREW NATSIOS: We appreciate the cooperation between the Sudanese government and us on counterterrorism. It is not driving U.S. policy. It is not the first principle. It is subordinated to the human rights issues and its humanitarian principle. That is not driving policy, nor is it going to constrain what we do.

KELEMEN: Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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