Saturday, October 22, 2005

US lawmaker blasts waiver allowing Sudan lobbyist

Fri 21 Oct 2005 6:05 PM ET
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - A Republican congressman criticized the State Department on Friday for allowing a U.S. lobbying firm to work for Sudan while the Bush administration is trying to tighten sanctions on the African country over the bloody conflict in its Darfur region.

Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia said he was "shocked" that the department granted a waiver from an order barring U.S. companies from doing business with Sudan. "This allows this guy to lobby for Sudan, which the Congress and the administration have said is complicit in genocide," he said.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Wolf said the waiver conflicted with the administration's push for the U.N. Security Council to tighten sanctions for Khartoum's failure to crack down on the janjaweed militias in the Darfur conflict.

Wolf, who has made five trips to Sudan and said he has seen genocide there first-hand, is chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees the State Department's budget.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli did not respond specifically to Wolf's letter. But he said the department's decisions were aimed at getting Sudan "to take responsible actions with regard to the violence in Darfur, and to facilitate and assist humanitarian work in Darfur, and to negotiate a political solution to the violence in Darfur."

In his letter to Rice, Wolf questioned how the U.S. company -- C/R International founded by former U.S. diplomat Robert Cabelly -- had exercised "such bad judgment" to sign on with Sudan, which is seeking to smooth relations with the United States. (Additional reporting by Sue Pleming)

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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