Condi Rice finds that cozying up to the war criminals who run Sudan can be unpleasant.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a congratulatory round of meetings with officials of the new unified Sudanese government Thursday, but expressed outrage after security forces manhandled aides and reporters accompanying her.
“It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen,” she said. “They have no right to push and shove.”
Rice made her remarks to reporters after she and her entourage board an airplane to fly from the Sudanese capital to a refugee camp in the Darfour region.
After landing near the camp, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Sudanese foreign minister had responded to Rice’s demand for an apology by telephoning her aboard the plane to say he was sorry for what had happened in Khartoum.
“Diplomacy 101 says you don’t rough your guests up,” Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson had said earlier as he and reporters were facing off with guards at the ultra-high-security residence of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir.
The guards elbowed Americans and tried to rip a tape away from a U.S. reporter. At another point, Rice’s interpreter and some other aides accompanying her were blocked at a gate.
Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed, head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, attempted to smooth over the situation on the spot. “Please accept our apologies,” he told the reporters and aides. “This is not our policy.”
But there was yet another scuffle moments later when a U.S. television reporter tried to ask el-Bashir a question about his involvement with alleged atrocities.
Guards grabbed the diminutive reporter and muscled her toward the rear of the room as State Department officials shouted at the guards to leave her alone.