US says concerned about Sudan peace deal, Darfur

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WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said she was very concerned about a crumbling peace agreement in southern Sudan and took aim at Khartoum for its behavior in Darfur and the south.

''I'm personally very concerned about the CPA,'' Rice said, referring to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended a two-decade-long civil war between the north and south that killed 2 million people and displaced more than 4 million.

''It's something that we really must make work,'' she added, in response to a question during testimony before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rice said the administration had asked for 70 million dollar in the supplemental budget to help with some of the reconstruction efforts in southern Sudan and also to help strengthen the government.

''We are very concerned about the behavior of the north, about Khartoum, in dealing with southern Sudan ... about their behavior in Darfur and eastern Sudan,'' Rice said after being asked if Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was still putting in roadblocks to bringing in peacekeepers into Darfur.

''But their behavior in the CPA has also not been good,'' she added.

Former southern rebels withdrew from Sudan's coalition government earlier this month after complaining they were being sidelined and key elements of the peace deal were being ignored.

Rice said she had just received a report from Andrew Natsios, the US envoy for Sudan, and would be deciding what policy the United States would implement to work on ensuring the peace agreement holds.

''This is something that cannot be lost,'' she said. ''We do not want the southern Sudan piece of this to unravel.'' Violence has also intensified in recent weeks in Darfur. Peace talks are set to begin this weekend in Libya on Darfur but a prominent rebel figure and five other smaller factions have said they will not attend the talks.

Natsios will represent the United States at the Libya meetings and has been pushing hard for all sides to attend.

Reuters AE DB2239

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