White House Shifts on Sudan Policy

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The White House is changing it's Sudan policy.

The new focus will be on working with the country's government instead of isolating it.

President Barack Obama issued a statement saying the U.S. and international community must act "with a sense of urgency and purpose" to seek an end to conflict, human rights abuses and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. While promising a diplomatic push, he also said he would renew existing sanctions on Sudan this week.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said sitting on the sidelines is not an option.

She urged the international community to make a real effort to bring peace and stability to Sudan.

"Let me be clear. It is too late for talk or idle promises or delays over misperceptions and misunderstandings," Clinton said. "This crisis is both a responsibility and an opportunity for the international community to help steer Sudan down a path that can lead to stability and security.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in the civil war in Sudan's Darfur region with nearly three million people made homeless.

U.S. humanitarian groups reacted to the new policy in varying ways.

"With an administration that is unified in its commitment to these priorities and to leading the international community in active engagement on all of these fronts, we believe that lasting peace in Sudan is well within reach," said Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, a human rights group.

Jerry Fowler, president of the private Save Darfur Coalition, said the president had put his administration back on course to a more effective policy, but he said Obama must become personally engaged.

"We need to see substantial personal involvement from President Obama; his presidency is the game-changer here," Fowler said.

John Prendergast, head of an anti-genocide program at the Center for American Progress, a think tank, called the Obama policy balanced and encouraged but added, "It's meaningless until implemented."

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