Washington - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday met
with his Sudanese counterpart Ali Karti but failed to repeat strong US
criticism of a deadly crackdown on protesters.
Thousands have taken to the streets to protest a more than
60% jump in petrol and diesel prices that took effect on 23 September - the
worst urban unrest in the history of President Omar al-Bashir's 24-year reign.
Authorities say 34 people have died in the protests. But activists
and international human rights groups said at least 50 people were gunned down,
most of them in the greater Khartoum area.
The real toll was difficult to determine but "could be
as much as 200", a foreign diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity
On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki blasted
which she called a "brutal crackdown" by Khartoum on the protestors,
adding it was "heavy-handed and disproportionate."
But in Kerry's meeting with Karti at the State Department on
Monday, the crackdown was "not a topic," Psaki said.
The two men "discussed the importance of peace between
Sudan and South Sudan and the need to end the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile
and Southern Kordofan," she said, as well as the need to allow
humanitarian access to protect civilians.
"This was not a long meeting; they discussed a range of
issues," she added.
Bashir's request for a US visa to be able to attend the UN
General Assembly in New York was also raised, Psaki said without giving further
Citing confidentiality, she refused to confirm whether the
US had denied or granted a visa to Bashir, who is wanted by the International
Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.
Karti on Friday addressed the assembly and accused the
United States of denying Bashir the visa, which he said breached its
obligations as the host of the United Nations.
He slammed the United States for what he called "a
serious violation of the principles and purposes set forth in the Charter of
the United Nations".
Bashir did not appear at the UN podium, with Karti taking
his place, but it remained unclear whether he had chosen not to travel or been
refused a US visa.