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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Powell Says Sudan Close to Genocide

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has issued a direct appeal to Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir to rein in militia groups he said were responsible for a "horrific" humanitarian crisis in western Sudan, including the uprooting of more than 1 million people.

But despite the deaths of tens of thousands of black Africans blamed on the government-backed Arab militias during the 16-month conflict in Darfur province, Powell stopped short of calling the killings genocide -- as some human rights groups have described them. The situation in Darfur is moving toward genocide -- "but we are not there yet," Powell said Tuesday after arriving in the Sudanese capital ahead of a meeting with el-Bashir.

Powell is teaming up with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who arrives here Wednesday, to pressure the Sudanese government to stop the fighting, disarm the militias, and remove the obstacles to the flow of humanitarian aid into the country.

Powell's decision to become the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Sudan in 26 years underscored the depth of his concern about the situation in Darfur, which has been described by UN officials and others as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.