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US Secretary of State says she has ‘real regrets’ on Darfur

November 17, 2008 (KHARTOUM) —The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted that she has “real regrets” over the handling of the crisis in the Western region of Darfur.

“I have regrets about Darfur, real regrets. I don’t know that there were other answers. The president considered trying to do something unilaterally - very difficult to do” Rice said in an interview with New York Times magazine.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The US has been the most outspoken country on bringing the issue of the Darfur. In September 2004 Washington officially labeled the conflict as ‘genocide’.

Last February US President George W Bush has defended his decision not to send troops to the region despite strong domestic pressure.

“I had to make a seminal decision. And that is whether or not I would commit US troops into Darfur” Bush told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in an interview.

But many Darfur activists accused the Bush administration of refusing to take more forceful steps against Khartoum to avoid jeopardizing their intelligence cooperation.

US officials denied the allegations saying that the counterterrorism cooperation has not prevented Washington from taking the lead on the Darfur crisis.

Rice criticized the UN Security Council (UNSC) for failing to impose sanctions on Sudan for putting a halt to the violence in Darfur region.

“I think it has been an enormous embarrassment for the Security Council and for multilateral diplomacy” the top US diplomat said.

“I think we thought "the responsibility to protect" meant something” she said before adding that and “in the Darfur case it has turned out to be nothing but words”.

Last year journalist Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post who often travels with Rice on her trips around the world, criticized her record on Darfur.

“Rice has also never been personally engaged in efforts to end the humanitarian tragedy in Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur” Kessler wrote in a book he named ‘The Confidante’.

UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.

(ST)