KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The United States helped train and arm rebels from west Sudan who rose up against the Sudanese government last year, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said in remarks published in an Egyptian newspaper.
US armed and trained Sudan rebels in ethnic cleansing genocide
"Who else than the United States is behind this ... They took rebels to Eritrea, and set up training camps for them, spent money on them, armed them and gave them Thuraya mobiles to speak between anywhere in the world," Bashir told the Al-Ahram daily when asked about foreign involvement in Darfur.
A U.S. State Department official in Washington, who asked not to be named, dismissed the charge.
"The whole purpose of the U.S. policy is to end the violence in Sudan. We are not funding, training, providing armaments to, supporting in any way, shape or form the rebels anymore than we are supporting the Janjaweed (militia)," the official said.
The Sudanese government has in the past accused Eritrea of arming Darfur rebels who launched their revolt against Khartoum in February 2003 after years of low-level clashes between Arab nomads and non-Arab farmers over scarce resources.
Bashir said the conflict had several causes such as tribal disputes and other local factors.
The United States has labelled the violence in Darfur genocide, blaming the Sudanese government and Arab Janjaweed militia, which Khartoum has been accused of arming.
Khartoum has dismissed charges of genocide and says it does not support the Janjaweed, branding them outlaws.
Sudanese officials have previously said the United States has exploited the Darfur crisis to further its own political agenda in the region and to exploit the country's oil and other resources. Sudan produces up to 320,000 barrels a day of crude.
"Eritrea ... was the land used, but the training, spending and planning was paid for by foreign powers, at the head of them the United States, represented in its agencies," Bashir told the semi-official Egyptian daily in the interview in Khartoum on Thursday.
Bashir said he had evidence and documents to support his charges, but he did not give details.
The Darfur rebel groups have offices in the Eritrean capital.
An Interior Ministry statement sent to Reuters on Thursday said rebels had attacked a village in South Darfur state called Menawashi, near the state border with North Darfur on September 27.
"The state forces ... managed to repel the attack, kill three of the attackers and take some of their weapons," the statement said, adding the attack violated a ceasefire signed by both sides in April but which has proved shaky.
The U.N. Security Council has threatened Sudan with possible sanctions if it fails to stop the violence in Darfur. Peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja collapsed earlier this month because of differences over security arrangements.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail welcomed the idea of transforming Sudan's government into a federal system with considerable autonomy granted to its states, including Darfur.
On Thursday, Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa, head of the Sudanese government's Abuja delegation, said the foreign minister was not referring to self-rule for Darfur.
"The foreign minister ... (actually) meant a strengthening of the federal system," he said in comments published on state news agency SUNA.
SOURCE: Reuters, "Sudan says U.S. armed Darfur rebels", 30 September 2004.
[ http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?storyID=594247 ]
"The Insider" mailing list article, 15 October 2004.
Tags: Sudan, America, armed, rebels, supported, trained, Janjaweed, militia, Darfur, US, accused, ethnic, cleansing, genocide, , conspiracy theories.