"NORFOLK, Va. — An official with the Sudanese government said he expects a North Carolina military training company to soon start working with security forces in the southern part of the country, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported Friday.
Blackwater USA, based in Moyock, North Carolina, could start training exercises within the next few weeks, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of mission in Washington for southern Sudan's regional government, told the newspaper.
State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck acknowledged that Blackwater has a training proposal for the region but declined to comment on it. Blackwater would need a license from the State Department to offer security service overseas.
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell told The Virginian-Pilot in a statement that the company has no contracts with Sudan and wouldn't confirm or deny negotiations. She didn't immediately return a phone call Friday from The Associated Press.
President Bush signed an executive order in October lifting sanctions from certain areas of Sudan, including southern parts of the country. The trade embargo was placed against the country in 1997 after the U.S. accused it of supporting international terrorism. Blackwater can train security forces in the south under the lifted embargo.
Blackwater has a 7,000-acre compound in Moyock where it has trained thousands of military and law enforcement personnel. It also works with international clients.
The company has more than $300 million in contracts with the State Department to guard diplomats and staff in Iraq.
Southern Sudan has been the site of flare-ups of a decades-long civil war that threaten a peace agreement. The conflict is separate from the violence in western Sudan's Darfur region, where mostly African ethnic tribes rebelled against the Arab central government. Violence in Darfur has claimed some 200,000 lives and forced 2.5 million people from their homes since 2003."
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