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After Iran, North Korea, Burma, an outstretched hand to Sudan

US President Barack Obama’s administration has now developed a new approach to Sudan that proposes working with that country’s government rather than isolating it. The policy argues that “to advance peace and security in Sudan, we must engage with allies and with those with whom we disagree”. Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, retired General Scott Gration has said the policy, to be announced on Monday by secretary of state Hillary Clinton, would draw on “incentives and pressure” to end the human rights abuses that have left millions dead or displaced even as Darfur has become a code word for such abuses. Gration said there would be time lines for Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir to fulfil the 2005 peace agreement his government signed with rebels in southern Sudan. Under that agreement, independence for southern Sudan comes up for a vote in 2011. Following months of debate, this new policy signals a real shift in Obama’s thinking. Aides say it’s a reflection of changing facts on the ground. Because it is significantly different from his campaign statements, it’s likely to infuriate many of Obama’s supporters in the human rights community.

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