UN council split over Darfur peace or prosecution

The United States said Monday it would be "premature" for the United Nations Security Council to suspend the international prosecution of Sudan's president in the name of Darfur peacekeeping. In closed talks, the US and two other veto-wielding council members, Britain and France, argued that the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, should be given time to get a warrant to arrest the president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. "To protect one person, by suspending the application of what Mr. Ocampo has proposed at this point is premature," American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters outside the council's chambers, strongly emphasizing the words "at this point." That could give Western nations more negotiating power eventually with the Sudanese leader, even if the prosecution were later suspended for a year.