In a new report, Walter Kansteiner, the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, said that bringing peace to Sudan was a key priority of President George Bush's administration.
The report, entitled "Peace, Conflict and Mediation In Africa: An Historic Opportunity in Sudan", said bringing peace to Sudan was also in the national security interest of the US government.
"I am pleased to be able to say that we have an historic opportunity to achieve peace. President Bush and Secretary [of State Colin] Powell are deeply committed to this effort," Kansteiner said.
He said a just settlement of the Sudanese conflict would contribute to regional stability in the strategic Horn of Africa, and help in the US global war against terrorism.
The Khartoum government is on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. "We have made clear to the Sudanese government that we expect it to cooperate fully against terrorism," Kansteiner said.
"Bringing about a peace settlement with a bill of rights which protects the fundamental freedoms of all Sudanese will contribute to the evolution of a more moderate Sudanese Government, and complement efforts to obtain cooperation against terrorism," he added.
Sudan's civil war, fought largely in the south between the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Islamic government in Khartoum, is one of the longest-running conflicts in the world, in which an estimated two million people have been killed and four million displaced. The two sides are currently holding peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
"I am convinced that a peaceful, unified Sudan can have a prosperous future and become a lynchpin for stability in the Horn of Africa," Kansteiner said. "The prospect of peace remains a big if, but is now clearly within the grasp of Sudanese leaders on both sides if they can muster the necessary political will."
"We must all be hopeful that they will demonstrate the vision to seize this historic opportunity," he stressed. "If they do not, the world and we will have no choice but to walk away. That is not in our interest or theirs. Let us remember that millions of lives are at stake. They need our engagement and our prayers."
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