WASHINGTON—The three major U.S. presidential candidates issued a rare joint statement on Wednesday condemning atrocities against civilians in Sudan and demanding an end to the violence.
"After more than five years of genocide, the Sudanese government and its proxies continue to commit atrocities against civilians in Darfur," said the statement signed by Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain.
"This is unacceptable to the American people and to the world community," the candidates said, adding that it was clear the Sudanese government was behind the violence.
They made clear that tough policies against the violence in Darfur would continue when the next president is seated in the White House in January, whichever of the three wins takes office in January. Obama is the front-runner to win the Democratic Party nomination to contest McCain in the November election.
Excerpts from the statement were placed in Wednesday's New York Times in an advertisement sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 180 religious, human rights and advocacy groups.
"It would be a huge mistake for the Khartoum regime to think that it will benefit by running out the clock on the Bush administration," the candidates said. "If peace and security for the people of Sudan are not in place when one of us is inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009, we pledge that the next administration will pursue these goals with unstinting resolve."
The Bush administration has labeled the conflict in Darfur as genocide, a charge the Sudanese government has rejected.
International experts say 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million made homeless by the Darfur violence. Khartoum says the actual figures are far lower.