Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Richardson Rolls up Sleeves

Since the current administration is preoccupied in the Middle East, a New Mexico Governor, and presidential hopeful, works towards peace in Darfur:
Khartoum, Sudan — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday pressed Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to open the wartorn Darfur region to U.N. troops, part of a global push for an elusive peace in the African nation.

Richardson, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, met privately with al-Bashir for nearly an hour at his mint green residence and emerged talking progress. He provided no specifics, but the two plan to meet again Wednesday and will issue a joint statement.

“The meeting was good. We made some progress,” Richardson told local reporters, choosing to keep details private as negotiations continued.
This isn't so much promoting my early preferences in the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes as much as it is wondering why the current administration has just dropped the ball in this region. Sure, they have played lisp service to the genocide in the region, but it is clear they have different priorities. It is fortunate we have an experienced diplomat stepping up and away from their more domestic obligations to see if they can't make a difference. There even seems to be 'luke warm' support for the White House:
McCormack shrugged off any suggestion that the administration resents the private diplomatic efforts of a potential Democratic presidential candidate.

“I wouldn't call it freelancing,” he said.

McCormack said the administration's new special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, had met with Richardson before his trip. Natsios has experienced a number of frustrations in his initial dealings with the al-Bashir government and is now seeking Chinese help to apply economic pressure on its Sudanese trading partner.

Back at his hotel, Richardson told an Associated Press reporter traveling with him that he and al-Bashir discussed the U.N. peacekeeping force, a cease-fire, protection for humanitarian groups working in the region, increasing sexual violence against refugees and a potential conference with rebel leaders.
While Bush prepares to inject a bunch more troops into Iraq, lest not forget the tragedy in Darfur. Hopefully Governor Richardson will make some progress.


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