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Bush Appoints Former Senator Danforth as Special Envoy to Sudan

Aired September 6, 2001 - 10:30   ET


JEANNE MESERVE CNN ANCHOR: Right now we're going to go to the Rose Garden, President Bush making an announcement abour Sudan. Let's listen in to his remarks.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm pleased to announce today my appointment of John Danforth of Missouri as Americans Envoy for Peace in the Sudan.

It's my honor to welcome the former United States Senator, his wife Sally, and distinguished guests here to the Rose Garden for this important announcement.

I am under no allusions. Jack Danforth has taken on an increadibly difficult assignment. The degree of difficulty is high. But this is an issue that's really important. It's important to this administration, it's important to the world, to bring some sanity to the Sudan.

I'm honored to be on the stage with our secretary of state, who's doing a fabulous job for America. When he speaks the world listens, and when he speaks on this subject the world will listen.

I'm honored to welcome members of the United States Congress, who have taken this issue very seriously. Thank you all for coming.

And I want to thank members of the diplomatic core who are here as well.

For nearly two decades the government of Sudan has waged brutal and shameful war against its own people. And this isn't right. And this must stop. The government has targeted civilian for violence and terror. It permits and encourages slavery. And the responsibility and the war is on their shoulders. They must now seek the peace, and we want to help.

Today, the tragedy in Sudan commands the attention and compassion of the world. For our part, we're committed to pursuing a just peace which will spare that land for more years of sorrow.

We're committing to bringing stability to the Sudan so that many loving Americans, non-governmental organization will be able to perform their duties of love and compassion within that country without fear of reprisal. Recently I appointed a humanitarian envoy, Andrew Natsios, to the administrator of USAID to address the material needs. Today I take a step further by naming distinguished American, a former United States senator, an ordained minister, a man of enormous respect.

The United States will continue to signal to the rest of the world our interest in this subject, our desire to bring governments together, to achieve a lasting peace.

I repeat what I told Jack in the Oval Office: Our administration is deeply committed -- is deeply committed -- to bringing good folks together from within our country and the leadership of other nations to get this issue solved once and for all.

It's a test of the compassion of the world. We're under -- the degree -- as I said, the degree of difficulty is high. Our Jack Danforth brings a realistic assessment to what is possible. But he also brings a big heart and enormous amounts of energy and a great commitment.

And so it's my honor to bring a good man back into government to take on a difficult, yet important, assignment.

Please welcome John Danforth.


JOHN DANFORTH, SPECIAL ENVOY TO SUDAN: Mr. President, thanks you very much.

The civil war in Sudan has lasted at least 18 years and it's caused immense human misery, the death of 2 million people, bombing and displacement of civilians, trading in human being as slaves. And appointing me special envoy, President Bush has asked me to determine if there's anything useful the U.S. can do to end the misery in Sudan in addition to what we are already doing on the humanitarian side.

Even to ask that question is a powerful statement by the president of the values of our country.

In the past few weeks, I have asked experts on Sudan their views on whether the United States can play a useful role in bringing about peace. Some have frankly told me that the answer is no. Others have been more hopeful.

I believe, as does the president, that if there is even the chance that we can help the peace process, we should seriously explore the possibility that America can do so.

While I accept this job with no expertise on Sudan, and I look forward to working with a number of people here today to get their views on the situation, I do have some thoughts that I would like to share with you.

First, the possibility of peace depends on the will of combatants, not on the actions of even the best-intentioned outsiders, including the United States. Perhaps America can encourage peace, we can not cause it.

Second, the will of combatants to have peace will be gauged not by their words, but by their acions.

Third, the job of a special envoy is to further peace. I am prepared to deal constructively with both sides of the conflict, the government of Sudan and the SPLA.

Fourth, the effectiveness of America's efforts for peace in Sudan will depend on our communication and cooperation with other interested countries, including the European Union and countries neighboring Sudan, especially Egypt and Kenya.

And finally, and this is very important, I'm not a one-man band or an independent contractor. In matters of foreign policy, America should speak with one voice. A special envoy is not a separate entity. He should support the normal diplomatic enterprise of the United States and not suplant it.

Mr. President, thank you very much.


MESERVE: President George W. Bush announcing the appointment of former Senator John Danforth to be his special envoy to Sudan, where a civil war has raged for almost 20 years. An estimate two million people have died there.

The president saying that he's under no illusions, that this is an incredibly difficult assignment for the former senator to undertake. The senator saying that he has no particular expertise on Sudan, but he does have some thoughts that peace depends on the will of the combatants, not outsiders like the United States. And that the will of those combatants will be gauged not by their words, but by their acions.

Danforth left the Senate in 1995, has been active on a number of fronts, including the investigateion of what happened in Waco. But now picking up new portfolio, going to the Sudan.

Major Garrett joins us now from the White House. Major, why John Danforth and why now?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John Danforth has a good deal of trust with many who are advising the president on this issue. Among them, Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican senator. The two know each other. Mr. Brownback has worked long and hard on this issue.

There are others in the religious community throughout the United States who've been working this issue very hard, Chuck Colson, Franklin Graham, who is Billy Grahams' son. The Reverend Billy Graham's son talks to the White House frequently about this issue. They also know Jack Danforth very well, trust him immensery.

One thing that's worth noting here, Jeanne, the United States does not, as the Clinton administration did, have a special envoy to Middle East. It does now have a special envoy to the Sudan.

One might ask: During the campaign, President Bush criticized the Clinton administration for trying to do nation building in places where there weren't exact pronounced U.S. interest. Well, the Sudan, some might say, would fall exactly into that category.

There are no major U.S. corporation in the Sudan. There are no particular military on geopolitical interests in the Sudan. So, why is this happening?

Well again, it's a reference again to an interesting coalition not only of liberals who are from the African-American community, Congressional Black Caucus in Congress among them, and also evangelical christians throughout the country who have lobbied the Bush administration to take the issue of Sudan very seriously. Now, with this move, the president has done exactly that. Jeanne?

MESERVE: Major Garrett at the White House. Thank you.



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