WRAPUP 1-U.S. keeps Sudan sanctions but offers dialogue

Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:26pm GMT

* U.S. seeks concrete progress on Darfur, southern Sudan

* Khartoum says new policy has "positive points"

* Rights groups say lack of detailed benchmarks a concern

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Monday said it would renew economic sanctions on Sudan, but also offered Khartoum new incentives to end violence in Darfur and the semi-autonomous South ahead of polls next year.

President Barack Obama, who during last year's U.S. presidential campaign urged a tougher line on Khartoum, said the action was necessary to prevent the oil-rich African giant from falling further into chaos.

"If the government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace, there will be incentives; if it does not, then there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the international community," Obama said in a statement, repeating accusations that the violence in Darfur amounted to genocide.

Sudan's government welcomed the new U.S. approach, which it said exemplified "the new Obama spirit."

"This is a strategy of engagement. It is not a strategy of isolation," Sudanese presidential adviser Ghazi Salahadin told a news conference. "Compared to the previous policies, there are positive points."   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.