Agence France Presse Feb 3, 2006 (WASHINGTON) *
The United States has backed away from describing the current violence
in Sudanıs Darfur region as genocide, calling it very serious but mostly a
series of small attacks by different parties. In September 2004,
Washington had accused Sudan's government and its militia allies of
genocide in the now three-year-old conflict with Darfur rebels that has
left up to 300,000 people dead and 2.4 million homeless.
But Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer,
briefing reporters on moves to bolster security in Darfur, said the
current situation "is very different than it was. Itıs not as
"It is a very serious situation and itıs a series of small attacks and
incidents," Ms Frazer said, adding that all parties were involved. "It
is not the government directing the militia attacking civilians."
But Ms Frazer would not respond to a direct question on whether the
bloodshed in Darfur still constituted genocide, as then-US secretary of
state Colin Powell alleged 17 months ago.
"The United States has said that genocide has occurred in Sudan, and we
continue to be concerned about the security environment in Darfur," Ms
Washington was virtually alone in declaring genocide in Darfur. The
United Nations has not used the term, which could trigger obligations under
international conventions, including the possible use of force to stop
Ms Frazer spoke at a press briefing here on efforts in the United
Nations Security Council to beef up peacekeeping operations in Darfur,
currently run by a 7,000-strong African Union force.
US ambassador John Bolton, whose country chairs the Security Council
this month, asked UN chief Kofi Annan to start planning for a possible
transition of the AU contingent to a more robust UN force.
Kristen Silverberg, US assistant secretary of state for international
organizations, said the idea was to combine the AU force with a
7,000-strong UN contingent deployed in southern Sudan and possibly add
in more troops.
Ms Frazer sidestepped a question on the possibility of contributing US
troops, saying the focus was on maintaining any new UN force as an
She said the United States already contributed heavily in financing and
logistical support. "We will continue to play an important role. I
don't know what the character of that role will be at this point," Ms Frazer