September 12, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The United States special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration met today with senior Sudanese officials including 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha, presidential advisers Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani and Salah Gosh as well as foreign minister Ali Karti.
Karti was quoted by Sudan official news agency (SUNA) as saying that discussions cantered on the new Darfur strategy crafted by Khartoum and the progress in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and preparations for the upcoming referendum in the South including the work of the commission and “good start” on border demarcation.
He noted the upcoming meeting on Sudan at the UN headquarters on September 24 called for by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon which will focus on the referendum scheduled for next January in which Southerners will decide whether they want to have their own independent state.
The First Vice president Salva Kiir from the SPLM and 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha from the NCP are expected to join the meeting.
Karti expressed hope that the meeting will be prepared for in a positive manner to be consistent with the good progress on all issues relating to Darfur and the South.
Gration speaking to New York Times (NYT) expressed worry on the referendum process.
“We are really now down to make or break,” Gration said in a telephone interview from Juba, the regional capital of southern Sudan.
“We’ve reached a point where progress is critical. Without significant progress in the next days and weeks, things could be at risk.”
Gration said that in his meetings, no Sudanese official had threatened to hold up the referendum.
“But what they say and what they do are two different things,” he added.
Obama will participate in the UN meeting on Sudan as was announced earlier this week.
The White House took the unusual step of publicizing Obama’s attendance two weeks in advance, an administration official told NYT, to attract other influential participants and to shine a spotlight on the precarious situation.