SANTA FE, NM – Governor Bill Richardson on Saturday will travel to
Khartoum, Sudan to meet with Sudanese officials to urge the country to fully accept the deployment of a hybrid United Nations peacekeeping force in the war-torn Darfur region. The Governor is making the trip at the request of the Save Darfur Coalition, which sent a letter to Governor Richardson urging him to make the trip. The Coalition believes Governor Richardson’s extensive diplomatic
skills and experience dealing with the Sudanese can help convince them to follow-through on their preliminary acceptance of a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force, consistent with the UN mandate. The Governor will also push for a possible cease-fire in the Darfur region.
“This is a crisis of incredible proportions- millions of lives in the Darfur region are at risk from war, disease, and malnutrition. The people of the region are desperately looking for help from the international community, especially the United States,” said (Richardson). “The US has an opportunity to use leadership and diplomacy to help, and if I can play even a small part in that effort I am ready to do it. This is a bi-partisan, humanitarian effort by both Democrats and Republicans to help find a resolution to this ongoing tragedy.”
While in Sudan, Governor Richardson will also travel to the Darfur
region to make a personal assessment and will meet with humanitarian groups.
Governor Richardson has coordinated his trip with Andrew Natsios,
Special Envoy to Sudan for the US Department of State. The Save Darfur Coalition is paying for the trip.
In September of 2006 Governor Richardson traveled to Sudan and secured the release of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New Mexico native Paul Salopek and two colleagues on humanitarian grounds. Salopek and two Chadian citizens, Suleiman Abakar Moussa, Salopeks’s interpreter, and his driver, Abdulraham Anu had entered Sudan without visas and were arrested and charged with espionage, passing information illegally, and writing “false news”.
The Governor has a long-term relationship with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir dating back to 1996. In December of that year then-Congressman Richardson successfully negotiated the release of another New Mexican, Albuquerque pilot John Early, and two Red Cross workers. The three had been held hostage for 38 days by Sudanese rebels. In that situation, President al-Bashir supported Congressman Richardson’s efforts.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
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