U.S. senator calls for American troops in Darfur
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Joe Biden said that he would commit U.S. forces immediately to stop militia in Sudan's Darfur region as long as there were reports of genocide.
Biden, a presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Monday that in his personal opinion nations had at "some point to cede their sovereignty" if they engaged in genocide.
Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, said U.S. President George W. Bush had made clear that sanctions would be the next step if the United Nations was not ready to send a large force to reinforce the African Union troops in Darfur.
More than 200,000 people have died and 2 million have been uprooted from their homes in the four-year-old conflict between ethnic African repels and the government, backed by the Arab Janjaweed militia.
"I would impose a no-fly zone immediately and I would commit (U.S.) forces to stop the Janjaweed now. But I am not making that decision," Biden told reporters.
Biden was leading a bipartisan delegation, which conferred with Security Council members, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the General Assembly president on a variety of issues.
Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, and Rep. Benjamin Cardin, a Maryland Democratic, did not join Biden in calling for U.S. troops but stressed that a solution to the Darfur crisis was foremost in the discussions.
"The most urgent conversation was on Darfur and how quickly a (U.N.) force could get on the ground," Cardin said.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdelhaleem, however, was angry at the comments, saying the senators "should first come with clean hands and apologize to the U.N. for the mess the United States did in Iraq."
He said Sudan would decide on a peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and police after the United Nations and the African Union had agreed on a plan and sent it to Khartoum.
"There is good momentum in the region," he said, calling Biden's remarks "unwarranted and out of context."