Skeptical US sees progress on plan for Darfur

The US State Department indicated skepticism Wednesday about Sudan's willingness to comply fully with a UN plan to end the suffering in Darfur, but it acknowledged that the process is moving forward. "What we need to see now is the Sudanese government actually acting on what it is they said they might do," spokesman Sean McCormack said. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said in a letter last week to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that he had agreed to a three-phase UN plan that would deploy some 20,000 UN peacekeepers and police in the Darfur region. Al-Bashir sent the letter days ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline for acceptance of the plan. A meeting of the White House National Security Council is planned Thursday to evaluate Sudan's compliance thus far. Such meetings normally are attended by the most senior officials in government, including the vice president, the secretaries of state, defense and treasury, the director of national intelligence, the national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others.