Thursday, September 07, 2006

Governor Richardson Visits Sudan to Negotiate For Freedom of Detained American

Governor Richardson was in Khartoum, Sudan today to meet with President Lt. General Umar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to negotiate the release of New Mexican journalist Paul Salopek and two of his colleagues. Once again Richardson heads to a faraway land to negotiate with a not-so-nice despot. Thus far he's had success in these kinds of matters in Iraq, Cuba and North Korea.

From the Governor's office:
It was Salopek’s wife Linda and Chicago Tribune Editor-in-Chief Ann Marie Lipinski who first appealed to Governor Richardson for help. Following that request, the Governor met last week with Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States, Khadir Haroun Ahmed, in Washington, DC, to discuss Salopek’s detainment. This week the Sudanese government formally invited Governor Richardson to travel to Sudan and meet with President Al-Bashir. Linda will accompany the Governor on the trip to Khartoum.

The invitation to Sudan came about in large part because of the Governor’s long-term relationship with President Al-Bashir and Ambassador Ahmed, which dates back to 1996. In December of that year then-Congressman Richardson successfully negotiated the release of another New Mexican, Albuquerque pilot John Early, and two Red Cross workers. The three had been held hostage for 38 days by Sudanese rebels. In that situation President Al-Bashir and Ambassador Haroun supported Congressman Richardson’s efforts.

This is an example of the cooperation that happens when one is a leader and establishes relationships. It's also something sorely lacking in the Bush Administration's foreign policy, which brings me back to 2 of "Richardson's Rules" from his book Between Worlds:

  • Find common ground and establish a personal connection.
  • Give up the locale. Don't insist on neutral ground, but go to his or her turf. It's the substance that counts, not the place where you negotiate.
To me, that's much better policy than, "Let's go bomb 'em back to the Stone Age." And that's why Bill Richardson is a more successful leader than George W. Bush.

Emmett has a post (with video) up at America for Richardson that details what Governor Richardson did the last time he went to Sudan.

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