Sudan demands U.S. apology for missile attack
Berger: Factory helped produce VX nerve gas
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Web posted at: 8:58 p.m. EDT (0058 GMT)
KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) -- Sudan wants a public apology from the United States for its missile attack on a drug-manufacturing factory in Khartoum and is asking for a U.N. Security Council investigation into the "barbarous and iniquitous" missile attack.
In an August 21 letter to the United Nations released Sunday, Sudan Minister of State Gobrial Roric demanded compensation from the United States for the missile attack on the Shifa Pharmaceuticals factory and called on the Security Council to condemn Washington.
Sudan also is recalling its entire diplomatic staff from Washington, but it is not severing ties with the United States, Information Minister Ghazi Salah el-Din said Sunday.
"This is in retaliation for the U.S. action," he said.
Sudan also plans to take steps against European countries that "openly and unconditionally supported the United States' aggression against Sudan," he added.
Britain, Germany and several other European nations have backed the U.S. strike against the pharmaceutical factory, which the United States claimed was making chemical weapons.
President Clinton ordered the attack, along with a simultaneous strike against militant camps in Afghanistan, in retaliation for the August 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Salah el-Din also said at a Sunday news conference that Sudan would welcome a U.N. inspection of the factory that U.S. missiles destroyed Thursday, but would not allow the team to inspect any other alleged chemical weapons site.
In the letter to the United Nations, Roric said the United States had "no evidence to support ... allegations" that the plant was being used "to produce chemical weapons and poisonous gases for terrorist purposes."
Sudan is "fully prepared to provide information to the Council, or to any other body mandated by it" to show that the factory was producing medicines for human and veterinary use.
But U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said Sunday that the United States has "physical evidence" that the factory was manufacturing a chemical used to make deadly VX nerve gas.
"The evidence, obviously, is highly classified," Berger said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We're not going to release it, but I can say that I have no question and the intelligence community has no questions."
The United States claims Osama bin Laden, an exiled Saudi militant, was using the factory for chemical weapons production. Sudanese officials have denied that claim.
"Bin Laden never came near the factory, and there is no way that this factory could have produced chemical weapons," Salah el-Din said.
At the news conference Sunday, the Sudanese minister said Washington has been hinting it wants a dialogue with Sudan.
"We have been receiving signals and suggestions by third parties that the U.S. wishes to take a milder position towards Sudan," Salah el-Din said.
"Our response is that we do not entertain any behind-the-scenes contact," he said. "If they want to speak to us, they have to come up with a public apology."
The United States persuaded Sudan to expel bin Laden in 1995. The minister called that move a mistake.
"We gave (U.S. officials) a piece of advice that they never followed. We told them: 'Don't send him out of Sudan because you will lose control over him.' Now, the United States has ended up with war with an invisible enemy," Salah el-Din said.
Sudan's foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, also said Sudan is ready to receive former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and members of the U.S. Congress to determine whether the factory produced weapons ingredients.
"We will keep the place (factory) as it is," Ismail told reporters, speaking from Baghdad at the end of a visit to Iraq. "It is very, very important that the international community, the American, European and Sudanese people know whether the American claims are right or wrong."
In a pointed reference to President Clinton's difficulties in the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Roric described the U.S. military attack as "a desperate attempt by the faltering United States leadership to distract attention from its mendacity and the moral scandals to which the people of the United States, and the people of the world, have been witness."
"Lying has become a characteristic feature of the United States administration," Roric said.
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