The Sudanese government said it had barred the US charge d’affaires from entering the country in protest at a visit by US Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs Susan Rice to southern Sudan. Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said Rice had visited southern Sudan from Nairobi without obtaining an official permit from the Khartoum government, news agencies reported on Tuesday. The government cancelled multiple entry visas for charge d’affairs Raymond Brown, presently in Nairobi, and other US diplomats, the Sudanese daily Al-Sahafi Al Dawli said. The foreign minister later told reporters in Khartoum that Rice had applied for a visa which was rejected, and proceeded anyway, AFP said . Ismail charged that Rice was being deliberately misleading by attempting to “demonstrate to the world” that slavery existed in Sudan, AFP said. He added that the areas under government control were “open to every official to acquaint himself of the situation there”.
A US State Department spokesman said that Sudan’s retaliatory revocation of visas was “unfortunate” and unwarranted, news agencies later reported. The spokesman told reporters that Rice did not have a visa when she visited southern Sudan to look into slavery and other humanitarian matters, but said Khartoum had been informed of her visit. “She used procedures followed by past visitors, including American officials and international relief personnel”, he told AFP. Rice met with “former slaves” and had “no doubt that slavery continues to exist”, said the spokesman.
Rice visited Marial, western Bahr el Ghazal, and Lui hospital in Western Equatoria, southern Sudan, humanitarian sources told IRIN.
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