During talks this week in Rome, the United States is dangling carrots in front of the Sudanese government:

"The Bush administration could remove Sudan from an American list of state supporters of terrorism and normalize relations if the Sudanese government agreed, among other steps, to allow Thai and Nepalese peacekeepers in its Darfur region...

Sudan wants an end to economic sanctions imposed by the United States since 1997. Sudan complained in the negotiating papers that sanctions had continued “despite the many positive achievements” by its government in Khartoum.

In addition, Sudan wants United States backing for its membership in the World Trade Organization, American support for the cancellation of Sudan’s foreign debts and “the immediate release of the Sudanese detainees at Guantánamo.”

Way back in July, United Nations Resolution 1769 authorized the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) of 26,000 troops and civilian police (Sudan accepted the resolution, but only after China significantly weakened the original text). Today, however, only 9,000 have been deployed to the troubled region. Khartoum, emboldened largely by its alliance with Beijing, almost entirely stalled the UNAMID operation when it insisted on an exclusively African force while the resolution promised it would be predominantly African.

Basically, the Thai and Nepalese peacekeepers should have been allowed into Darfur long ago. There a very real danger that the United States' offer of normalizing relations will backfire if Khartoum sees this proposal as a precedent for extorting perks from individual governments by flouting the international community and its agreements.

As for Khartoum's "many positive achievements," I don't think anyone has a clue as to what those might be.

--Anabel Lee