DAKAR, Senegal – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) says there has been progress in Darfur but the world will not accept mere promises from Sudan's new government to halt the violence.
Rice planned to visit a Darfur (search) refugee camp that houses more than 70,000 people on Thursday. She was to meet privately with female refugees to discuss their claims that they face violence and rape inside and outside the camp.
En route to Africa, Rice indicated it can be an awkward task for the Bush administration to both encourage the new Sudan government and hold it accountable for Darfur.
"I'll admit it's not the easiest thing to manage these two tracks," Rice told reporters aboard her plane.
Speaking after a trade conference in Senegal (search) on Wednesday, Rice said the unified government in Sudan offers new hope to end the death and violence in that province nearly a year after the administration first called the crisis there genocide.
"We don't rely on words, we rely on action," Rice said. Still, she said the end of a separate civil war between Sudan's north and south and the formation of a reconciliation government offered a "new day" for Darfur.
War-induced hunger and disease have killed more than 180,000 people and driven more than 2 million from their homes since rebels from black African tribes took up arms in Darfur in February 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression by Sudan's Arab-dominated government.
The Sudanese government was accused of responding by backing a counterinsurgency by Arab militia known as the Janjaweed. Sudan's leaders denied involvement in the violence.
Nearly 2 million people are housed in camps in Sudan, and additional refugees live in camps across the border in Chad.
Sudan formed a new reconciliation government this month, following a peace agreement to end a 21-year-year civil war between the Muslim north and mainly Christian and animist south that killed an estimated 2 million people.
The United States held the Arab-dominated former government at arms length, operating an embassy without a full ambassador and listing Sudan, Africa's largest country, among the nations sponsoring terrorism.
Still, the administration has made Sudan a focus of second-term diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. Rice's deputy, Robert Zoellick, has made three trips there this year.
The United States, the European Union and individual European countries are helping finance an African-led peacekeeping contingent. The African Union is building up the planned force of 7,700, but Rice has sounded frustrated with the pace of deployment.
At the airport in the Sudan capital of Khartoum, Rice was meeting some of a contingent of 1,200 Rwandan troops en route to Darfur.
Rice's two-day African trip, her first to the continent as secretary of state, was originally planned as a much longer trip. She cut it short to fly to the Middle East for a long weekend of shuttle diplomacy intended to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians ahead of Israel's planned withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, Rice emphasized a need for worldwide economic aid to developing African nations, and she announced a modest increase in U.S. grants aimed at helping West African countries export more goods.
Rice told delegates at a U.S.-Africa trade conference that the additional $1 million in U.S. grants would help West African nations improve transportation safety and infrastructure to enhance international trade.
"Only the people of Africa can solve the problems of Africa," she said. "But for these men and women to fulfill their dreams of democracy and security and prosperity, all developed nations have a responsibility to help."
The United States is urging African producers to diversify the kinds of goods they sell abroad. The U.S. already buys large amounts of oil from Africa, but both places would benefit from increased trade in an array of other goods, especially farm products, U.S. officials at the trade conference said.