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U.N. council OKs resolution to act on Sudan crisis

U.S. says sanctions still possible if Darfur violence isn't stopped

From Jonathan Wald

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Sudan faces a terrible humanitarian crisis.

Refugees fleeing from Sudan cross into Chad.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council voted overwhelmingly Friday in favor of a U.S.-backed resolution implicitly threatening to impose sanctions if the government of Sudan does not stop atrocities in the Darfur region within 30 days.

Thirteen members of the council voted for the resolution, with China and Pakistan abstaining.

After the vote, French President Jacques Chirac announced France would send some humanitarian troops to Darfur.

"This is the last thing we wanted to do, but the government has left us with no choice," said John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"It's time to start the clock ticking on the government of Sudan."

The vote comes after the United States on Thursday dropped the word "sanctions" from its draft resolution on Sudan but maintained sanctions are still possible if the Sudanese government does not comply with commitments it made earlier this year to control the crisis in the Darfur region.

The draft calls upon the Sudanese government to disarm pro-government Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, that have brutally attacked black African farmers in Darfur. Human rights groups estimate 15,000 to 30,000 civilians have been killed and more than 1.2 million people have been left homeless.

The Janjaweed was created in February 2003 by Khartoum as a way of controlling black African groups in Darfur that have accused the Islamic government of favoring the country's Arab population.

Danforth said the word "sanctions" was objectionable to certain council members. He made clear, however, that the changes in the resolution are "simply a matter of nomenclature" and the threat of full economic and diplomatic sanctions remains.

The Chinese delegation, which requested a one-hour delay of the vote to consult with Beijing on whether the revised wording was acceptable, eventually chose not to support the resolution.

Zhang Yishan, the deputy Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that "these measures are not helpful" and "may further complicate the situation in Sudan."

The resolution said the council "expresses its intention to consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations."

Article 41 states the council may decide on "complete or partial interruption of economic relations" and "the severance of diplomatic relations."

"It takes no teeth out of it," Danforth said of the revised resolution.

Danforth said Sudanese officials "created this monster." "It's their responsibility to control it," he said.

In 30 days, the council will meet again to discuss if further action against the government is needed.

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