8 September 2010

Sudan: Remarks by Secretary Clinton at the Council on Foreign Relations

Photo: Tim McKulka
Preparing to vote in South Sudan.

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Washington, DC — An excerpt from a question-and-answer session following a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC:

QUESTION: How are you, Secretary Clinton? My name is Travis Atkins. I'm an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations focusing on Sudan this year. And my question is if – you mentioned Darfur once in your talk – if you could elaborate a little bit on our ramped up efforts in Sudan as we head towards the referendum there in January.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. Thanks for asking and thanks for your work on Sudan. We have a very difficult set of challenges in Sudan. Some of you in this audience, those of you who were in government before like John Negroponte and others, you know this firsthand – the situation in Darfur is dangerous, difficult, not stable.

But the situation North-South is a ticking time bomb of enormous consequence. So we are ramping up our efforts to bring the parties together, North and South, the African Union, others to focus on this referendum which has not been given the attention it needs, both because the South is not quite capable of summoning the resources to do it, and the North has been preoccupied and is not inclined to do it because it's pretty clear what the outcome will be. The African Union committee under Thabo Mbeki has been working on it.

So we are upping our diplomatic and development efforts. We have increased our presence in Juba, we have sent a – we've opened a – kind of a consulate and sent a consul general there, we are – Princeton Lyman, whom some of you know, is – sort of signed on to help as well with Scott Gration and his team.

MR. HAASS: Until last week, a senior fellow here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That's right, and Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson. It's really all hands on deck, so that we're trying to convince the North and South and all the other interested parties who care about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to weighing in to getting this done. The timeframe is very short. Pulling together this referendum is going to be difficult. We're going to need a lot of help from NGOs, the Carter Center, and others who are willing to help implement the referendum.

But the real problem is what happens when the inevitable happens and the referendum is passed and the South declares independence. So simultaneously, we're trying to begin negotiations to work out some of those intractable problems. What happens to the oil revenues? And if you're in the North and all of a sudden, you think a line's going to be drawn and you're going to lose 80 percent of the oil revenues, you're not a very enthusiastic participant, what are the deals that can possibly be made that will limit the potential of violence? And even if we did everything perfectly and everyone else – the Norwegians, the Brits, everybody who is weighing in on this – did all that they could, the reality is that this is going to be a very hard decision for the North to accept.

And so we've got to figure out some ways to make it worth their while to peacefully accept an independent South and for the South to recognize that unless they want more years of warfare and no chance to build their own new state, they've got to make some accommodations with the North as well. So that's what we're looking for. If you have any ideas from your study, let us know. (Laughter.)

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