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Friday
Jul082011

US Delegation to Witness Birth of a New Country

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Saturday, a new country will come into being when South Sudan gains its independence, six years after its bloody civil war with Sudan ended.
 
That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re in the clear. A number of contentious issues remain unresolved and renewed fighting along the border in recent months illustrates just how hard it has been to get here, and how hard it will be to keep the peace.
 
“This is a fragile and fraught moment as well.  It cannot and must not be taken for granted,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters Thursday. Rice is leading a bipartisan U.S. delegation to the independence celebration, which will include former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rice will also preside over a ribbon cutting to turn the American consulate in Juba into a full embassy.
 
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended a bloody civil war that claimed, by some accounts, over two million lives during two decades of conflict. It called for referenda on South Sudan’s independence and on the status of Abyei, the oil-rich area on the border. Only the first one took place earlier this year, paving the way for the independence, but the Abyei vote was postponed. The complications surrounding Abyei were illustrated when Sudanese troops took control of the city earlier this year.
 
Also on the to-do list: the final borders of South Sudan, citizenship for its residents and how to divide the oil revenue. Rice urged both sides to decide the issues quickly.
 
“It’s critical that the parties cooperate on such key issues as oil and citizenship in order to avoid major economic shocks or social upheaval,” she said.
 
Recently, Sudanese military clashes with Southern Sudanese forces in the Southern Kordofan region have raised concerns that conflict could flare up again.
 
The United States has been very involved in the Sudanese peace process for many years. Colin Powell was there in 2005 when the CPA was signed and successive special envoys have worked to make sure the independence referendum was held without incident this year.
 
At the United Nations last October, President Obama urged both sides to stick to the path of peace.
 
This September, the U.S. will host a conference in Washington, D.C. to help develop private investment in South Sudan and ensure the country is ready for investment.
 
The United States has also held out a significant carrot to Khartoum: cooperate on the CPA and Sudan could be removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which carries its own sanctions designations.
 
Rice said Thursday that until all CPA issues are resolved Sudan will remain on the list.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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    US Delegation to Witness Birth of a New Country - World News - ABC News Radio

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