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U.S. Negotiator Robert Zoellick Returns from Darfur Peace Talks

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick recently returned from Africa, where he helped negotiate a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and a faction of Darfur's largest rebel group. Zoellick outlines the main points of the agreement and the Bush administration's stance on the crisis in Darfur.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick returned this weekend from Africa, where he helped negotiate a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and a main faction of Darfur's largest rebel group. And he joins us now.

    Mr. Deputy Secretary, welcome.

    ROBERT ZOELLICK, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: Thank you.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Well, in her report tonight from Sudan, Margaret Warner said that Darfur is a wild and lawless place with no sign yet that anything is about to change. What has to happen in order for the people in the camps to see the result of your work, diplomatically?

  • ROBERT ZOELLICK:

    Well, the peace agreement is just a start. It's a critical step, but there's a lot that has to be built on it.

    I understand that Margaret was in Kalma camp, which is one that I visited. It's a huge camp, and I think the report I got was some of the demonstrations today were due to the fact that people are worried about their food being cut.

    So one of the things that President Bush has called for today is the United States has provided about 85 percent of the food so far this year to Sudan. We're going to divert and bring more food in with the help of the Congress, but we need some people to help on the food side.

    Second, we need to strengthen the security arrangements, and that's helping with the African Union force on the ground, about 7,200 people, but that's not enough people for an area the size of Texas. So we want to try to move in the U.N. this week, based on this peace agreement, and add a U.N. force.

    And then, third, we need to eventually create, in addition to the security conditions, the situation so people can go home, so we need to help on the reconstruction and development. And one of the things that I was doing this weekend involved the Dutch offering to organize a conference.

    So you're exactly right: It's a violent place. It's a place of tragedy and great sadness, but now there's a chance, but there's a lot of work to be done.

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