Bush treads fine line on Sudan

May 27, 2008 at 11:45 AM

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- The Bush administration's criticism of Sudan is at odds with private meetings with Sudanese officials, dividing experts on the effectiveness of U.S. policy.

President George Bush accused Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of "genocide" in Darfur. But a visit by State Department envoy Richard Williamson to Khartoum is the latest by senior administration officials, underscoring how the White House has departed from its call to shun talks with radical tyrants and dictators, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Experts are divided about how much the White House position has improved conditions in Sudan, the Post said. It also raised charges of hypocrisy, because Bush accused people advocating talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other similar leaders of "appeasement."

"The Bush administration has spent years not only talking at very senior levels with one of the world's worst tyrants" but also offered big concessions for small improvements, said Susan Rice, Africa policy official in the Clinton administration and adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the administration has been willing to talk with Sudan because "they want better relations with the United States and we want to stop a genocide."

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