The United States revised a draft U.N. resolution on Sudan (search) on Tuesday but was determined to keep the threat of sanctions despite opposition by some Security Council members who want to give the Sudanese government more time to stop the violence.
The draft U.N. resolution circulated by the United States last week for the first time included a direct threat of sanctions against the Sudanese government if it doesn't rein in Arab militias accused of killing thousands in that country's western Darfur (search) province.
The United States made some changes to the text but sanctions were still "a focal point," said Stuart Holliday, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations. Experts were still working on the wording, and U.N. diplomats said they did not expect the changes from last week's draft to be significant.
The 15-nation Security Council (search) was to discuss the revisions later Tuesday in a closed meeting, and Holliday said he hoped for a vote on Thursday or Friday.
"We have a lot of support for immediate action in Darfur," Holliday said.
Russia, Pakistan and China have opposed the threat of sanctions and called for Sudan to be given sufficient time to meet its commitments under a July 3 agreement it reached with Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search).
"We have to get it right," Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram said. "We need a clear strategy on how to deal with the situation."
The 25-nation European Union joined the United States on Monday in pushing for U.N. sanctions against Sudan if the government doesn't implement its promise to Annan to crack down on the pro-government Arab militias, improve security and provide better access for relief efforts.
But Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said during a trip to Turkey that threats of sanctions would harm efforts to end the conflict in Darfur. "We don't need threatening, we don't need sanctions," he said.
The Sudanese government also rejected any intervention by foreign troops in Darfur, saying in a statement issued Tuesday by the Cabinet that "Sudan is capable of solving its conflicts by itself."
The 17-month conflict has killed up to 30,000 civilians, most of them black villagers, displaced more than 1 million and left some 2.2 million in urgent need of food or medical attention.
U.S. and humanitarian officials have accused the Sudanese government of backing Arab militias known as Janjaweed in a brutal campaign to drive out black Africans farmers. The government denies any connection to the violence.
Some Arabs have rallied to the Sudanese government, denying it is responsible for what the U.S. Congress has called a campaign of genocide against Africans in Darfur. Even those who criticize Sudan's authoritarian regime say the West is mishandling the Darfur issue at a time when Arabs are fearful that the United States plans to follow its invasion of Iraq with an attempt to remake the region.
"The Arab League doesn't accept the imposition of sanctions, especially in Sudan, because it will serve no purpose. On the contrary, it will complicated the situation," league spokesman Hossam Zaki told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "More time must be given to Sudanese government to carry out its promises and it must be given the chance."
The current draft resolution sets a timetable for assessing progress on apprehending and bringing to justice the Janjaweed militia blamed for the bulk of the violence. It also calls on Annan to report every 30 days "and expresses its intention to consider further actions, including the imposition of sanctions on the government of Sudan, in the event of noncompliance."
An arms embargo would apply to individuals, groups or governments that supply the Janjaweed or rebel groups.
"We find the threat of sanctions is absolutely necessary," Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz said. "Our position on this is very clear and I think the majority of the council is in that line but we will have to see."
Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali said Monday, however, that many delegations wanted to change the wording about sanctions. He didn't elaborate but said he was "hopeful" that differences could be overcome.