captsgehud82290507094335photo00photodefault-512×341.jpgThe United States will slap fresh sanctions on Sudan over the Darfur conflict on Tuesday and seek a tough new UN Security Council resolution punishing Khartoum, top US officials said late Monday. US President George W. Bush will announce the move at 8:00 am (1200 GMT) in remarks that single out Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, the officials said in a briefing arranged by the White House on condition they not be named.

Washington will toughen enforcement of existing sanctions; bar another 31 companies, including oil exporters, from US trade and financial dealings; and take aim at two top Sudan government officials, they said. “President Beshir’s actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation while finding new methods of obstruction,” Bush said in remarks prepared for delivery from the White House diplomatic reception room.

The two officials expressed guarded optimism that the new punitive measures would compel Sudan to accept the deployment of a hybrid UN-African Union force, end support for the Janjaweed, and let humanitarian aid reach Darfur.

China said Tuesday the US decision to slap fresh sanctions on Sudan will not help solve the problem.The Darfur conflict has cost at least 200,000 lives and forced more than two million people from their homes, according to the United Nations, though Sudan contests those estimates, saying 9,000 people have died.

Washington’s sanctions will be “effective tomorrow” — even as US diplomats launch an all-out effort to win support for a new UN resolution, including efforts to overcome possible Chinese resistance, one top US official said.

From a US perspective, a new UN resolution would apply new multilateral financial sanctions against Sudan and the three newly targeted individuals and expand an existing arms embargo from individuals operating in Darfur to any sales to Sudan’s government, the official told reporters.

It would also impose UN measures to prevent the government in Khartoum “from conducting any military flights over Darfur,” the official said in a conference call. “I don’t want to say that we have a specific resolution right this minute,” the official said. “We have some draft pieces. We’ll see how those pieces will fit together.” The violence erupted in the western Sudanese region — an area roughly the size of France — in 2003 when Khartoum enlisted the help of Arab militia known as the janjaweed to put down an ethnic minority rebellion.

The Sudanese government has repeatedly rejected plans to deploy UN troops alongside the African peacekeepers in a joint force numbering some 23,00O soldiers. Khartoum’s hand has been strengthened by China, which has opposed US-led plans within the UN Security Council to use sanctions to force Beshir to accept a UN deployment. “We don’t have a specific commitment from the Chinese” to support a new UN resolution, the US official said. “We’ll work with them on the specifics of a resolution.” China openly supplies arms to Sudan and buys more than half of the African state’s oil output.

The two officials expressed guarded optimism that the new punitive measures would force Sudan’s hand, five weeks after Bush warned Beshir that he had one “last chance” to comply with international demands. “The overarching message from the president is, the president believes we cannot wait any longer for the violence to stop and for the people of Sudan to get what they need,” said one of the officials.

But that official was careful not to predict success or describe the sanctions as “strong.” Instead, he told reporters: “If you’re the Sudanese government, and you have severe difficulties in spending money, then I think they (the Sudanese) will think they (the sanctions) are strong.” “Let’s see what kind of United Nations Security Council resolution we get. And let’s see how Beshir quantifies it,” the official said.

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