Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon, everyone. I’d just like to say a few words about the topic we discussed this morning: Sudan and South Sudan and Abyei. The agreements that were signed last week in Addis on security, oil, financial, nationality and trade issues were very important and potentially historic.
Last week was indeed a moment worth applauding. But the success of these agreements depends fully on the willingness and readiness of the two parties to implement them faithfully and with a sense of urgency, and to use the positive momentum that came out of last week’s agreements to address those remaining issues on which they failed to agree. Sudan and South Sudan need to implement the oil agreement as swiftly as possible, so that both peoples can again benefit from this important resource. On security, they must immediately implement the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone, redeploy all forces, and operationalize the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism.
And even as the parties implement what they agreed upon, they have to continue with a sense of purpose the negotiations on those issues that remain outstanding. And, as we know, they include the resolution of the disputed area of Abyei, as well as issues remaining—related to—the border, and, of course, crucially, the issues of Southern Kordafan and Blue Nile.
Progress on these issues is crucial, both to the sustainability of the larger agreements that were set last week and of course for the sustainability of improved ties between North and South, which we very much support and have every interest in seeing assured. The Council feels that—obviously we have been able to speak with one voice and to hold the parties to our resolution 2046. The progress that has been made is a reflection of that unity in part, and we will continue to remain united, particularly as we press for progress in the Two Areas. Humanitarian access is urgent and overdue, and the resolution of the political issues that underlie the disputes in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile are not side issues, but central, indeed, to good relations between North and South. So, we continue to urge for immediate and full humanitarian access, a cease fire arrangement, and of course, the resumption of direct political discussions. It’s long past time for the government of Sudan to take the steps necessary to implement the tripartite agreement on humanitarian access for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile where the situation clearly remains dire and unacceptable.
I just want to say a few words in closing about Darfur because we discussed Darfur in the Council, even though it wasn’t the proximate subject of the meeting. And I want to reiterate what I said in the Council and what many members of the Council underscored, which is that we convey our deepest condolences to the government of Nigeria and to the families of the peacekeepers—the four who were killed and the eight who were wounded. It is yet another example of the courage and sacrifice of UNAMID peacekeepers who are working in a very difficult environment. Attacks on peacekeepers, as you know, constitute war crimes and it’s imperative that the government of Sudan bring those responsible to justice. It’s also equally important that the government of Sudan allow UNAMID and humanitarian actors full access to all parts of Darfur, both to protect and assist the victims of the conflict, support implementation of the agreement, and of course, investigate what transpired on the 2nd of October.
I’m happy to take a couple questions.
Reporter: Thank you, Madame Ambassador. I have a question about a possible Security Council statement on the shelling from Syria into Turkey and the Turkish reaction. I understand that there was a statement circulated and that the Russians had some objections. Can you tell us the state of play and what the problems are?
Ambassador Rice: Well as you know, let me begin from the U.S. point of view. The United States has very strongly condemned the shelling that resulted in the deaths of several and the injury of several more. This is of grave concern. Turkey is a core ally of the United States and this sort of cross border military activity is very destabilizing and must be stopped. That’s the same view that we think the Council needs to express clearly and unequivocally. The Azeri delegation had tabled a draft yesterday. We thought the draft adequately reflected the key points that need to be made. I think it reflected what the Turkish authorities were interested in seeing come out of the Council. It was not agreed last night by the first silence. There were some amendments provided by a delegation this morning. I think those amendments in their initial form were not deemed acceptable—at least most of them were not deemed acceptable—by many on the Council. So now the political coordinators are in negotiations as we speak working through that text, and while I think it’s too early to say what will be the result of those negotiations, we think it’s very important that the Council speak clearly and swiftly to condemn this shelling.
Reporter: A follow up, Madam Ambassador, but now the situation in Syria is obviously spilling over in Turkey and Lebanon. If the Security Council is going to continue to be paralyzed, what is the alternative, in your view. to the Security Council action?
Ambassador Rice: Well, the United States has been very clear for many months that one of the approximate consequences of the Council’s inability to speak with one voice and apply a measure of pressure on the government of Syria to stop the violence was that this conflict would become increasingly destabilizing not just for the people of Syria but for the neighbors. And we’ve seen that tragically unfold, not only in terms of cross-border incidents—and we know this is not the first, there have been others that have affected Turkey, that have affected Lebanon, I believe Jordan as well—but also the refugee flows, which are significant and sustained. So this already is—and has for quite some while been—a conflict that has broader ramifications for the security of the region and potentially also for international peace and security, which is why the United States has argued that this is squarely in the wheel house of the Security Council and deserves appropriate and meaningful action.
But, as you well know, that on three occasions two permanent members of the Security Council have prevented such action, even modest action. The United States has been of the view that that’s extremely unfortunate and that the consequences of that need to be borne by those responsible. But in the meantime, we’ve been very clear. We are going to continue and intensify the pressure on the Assad regime, and that is why the United States, European, and many other partners in the region have applied mounting economic sanctions and pressure on the government. We’re going to continue to do so. We have also indicated our strong support, political and material, for the opposition. And we have supported opposition attempts to consolidate and clarify their political program and unify just as we have also been providing increased quantities of material assistance—non-lethal assistance—including communications equipment, medical equipment, and the like. We have been and remain the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for the crisis in Syria and as it overflows into neighboring countries, contributing over $130 million to date to that effort. And we’ve also been leading the charge for accountability for the crimes that have been committed by supporting those who are gathering evidence and preserving that evidence so that it will be useful and usable when the time comes to hold the perpetrators to account.
Reporter: I wanted to ask you, the communiqué that came out after the Sudan / South Sudan meeting during the General Debate said that the two parties should continue to negotiate on the unresolved issues. But Pagan Amun, the chief negotiator of South Sudan, said there’s no need to negotiate anymore in Abyei, that a proposal was made that Sudan turned down and now it’s just sort of in the hands of the high-level panel. What’s the U.S.’s view? Should South Sudan continue to negotiate this issue of Abyei, as was said in the communiqué, or what’s the next step to actually solve this unresolved issue?
Ambassador Rice: Well, we look forward to former President Thabo Mbeki’s report first to the AUPSC and then of course thereafter to the Security Council in which we expect this issue to be addressed. He has tabled a proposal that is consistent with the Abyei protocol and the findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. We think that’s a worthy and valid proposal and we hope it will remain the basis of the negotiating efforts going forward.
Thank you very much.