STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR Charlayne Hunter-Gault is traveling with the group and joins us now. Charlayne, what can they do?
CHARLAYNE HUNTER: Steve, they're bringing to bear their own years of experience and moral authority. You know, both Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are Nobel Prize winners. They bring a lot of heavy-duty background and influence to bear.
INSKEEP: Is that why they think they can make progress?
HUNTER: Yes. That's exactly the reason. They can speak truth to power without fear of consequences. In fact, listen to what Archbishop Desmond Tutu told me last night.
DESMOND TUTU: President Carter has a very long relationship with President al-Bashir. And sometimes it takes just a word to the wise, where you don't need to publicize anything. And it just might be the thing that turns the trick.
INSKEEP: So we're told there that President Carter has a long relationship with Sudan's president. Is he among those that the elders, as we're calling them, will be seeing?
HUNTER: They're engaged in discussions with a wide range of role players and stakeholders from the opposition, from the warring factions, and even President al-Bashir himself. And before - they're going to meet with al-Bashir twice. And before they meet with him the first time, they're asking these NGOs and humanitarian workers and the others I have mentioned what is it that we can do to help. Once they gather all that information, they're going to go back to President al-Bashir and say this is what we've heard and make some recommendations.
INSKEEP: Well, I want to ask about this bit of news that we mentioned at the top, and it's a rather a large bit of news. The African Union is saying its troops were attacked in Darfur by Sudanese rebels. And this is described as one of the most sustained attacks - maybe the most sustained attacks in some time.
HUNTER: And many of the humanitarian workers I spoke with seemed to think that this might be the reason for this attack, that they're trying to gain some primacy, but exactly who these people are, nobody knows. Some of the humanitarian workers seemed to think that this is a response to continuous government bombardment of that region in Darfur, which is very remote. I mean, no aid workers have been able to get there within the last two months and there's some 17,000 people caught in the middle of this conflict. And aid workers say that there's some suspicion on the part of the rebels that these A.U. forces are giving the government information. Now, that's merely a charge, nothing substantiated. So why they attacked - who knows? It's a very difficult, fragile, volatile situation.
INSKEEP: NPR's Charlayne Hunter-Gault is in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, covering a conflict where it's hard even to know who the enemy is. Charlayne, thanks very much.
HUNTER: Thank you, Steve.
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