Sudan has threatened to take measures against the US if an official goes ahead with reported plans to visit rebel-held areas in southern Sudan without authorization, a newspaper reported Sunday.
"The Sudanese government will take measures if Susan Rice pays a visit to south Sudan without obtaining permission and an entry visa from the concerned Sudanese authorities," Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail was quoted by the independent Al-Sahafi daily as saying.
Ismail said those measures would be "diplomatic and political" but declined to elaborate on them, saying they "will be declared in time."
The daily said the foreign minister was commenting on a press report from Nairobi carried by Khartoum newspapers, including Al-Sahafi.
The report said Rice, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, would travel to southern Sudan during an African tour where she would inspect development projects and meet with officials in areas held by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
The foreign minister accused Rice of "animosity" towards the Sudanese government and of being "biased" in favor of the SPLA, Al-Sahafi said.
Successive Arab-Islamic governments in Khartoum and the black non-Muslim SPLA have been fighting a civil war for the past 17 years. Northern opposition groups joined the rebels in 1995.
Ismail denounced Rice's planned visit as "a violation of international laws and norms" and said his government rejects any visit by a US official to southern Sudan without prior permission, the paper reported.
He told the daily that his ministry had earlier lodged an official protest with the US state department against "repeated" visits by US officials to southern Sudan without obtaining permits from the government in Khartoum.
The paper said Ismail also accused the US official of playing a major role in the continuation of the civil war in southern Sudan by "persuading the rebels into fighting and discouraging them from assuming a serious position in the peace negotiations." -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)