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Obama Picks Special Envoy To Sudan

President Obama will name Scott Gration as special envoy to Sudan, CBS News confirms.

A senior official said the formal announcement will come today.

Gration, a retired Air Force General, is said to be a close friend of Mr. Obama's with long-experience on African issues, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Update 5:30 p.m. ET: The White House has now made the appointment official. Here is the full release from the White House:

Today, I am pleased to join Secretary Clinton in announcing the appointment of Major General J. Scott Gration as the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan. General Gration's personal and professional background, and his service to the country as both a military leader and a humanitarian, give him the insights and experience necessary for this assignment.

Sudan is a priority for this Administration, particularly at a time when it cries out for peace and for justice. The worsening humanitarian crisis there makes our task all the more urgent.

I have made clear my intention to work with the international community to end the suffering. That means supporting the full, unobstructed deployment of the joint African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force and the negotiation of a political solution that will give the people of Darfur a meaningful voice in the decisions that affect their future. The Government of Sudan's disastrous decision to expel humanitarian relief organizations leaves a void that will be filled by deprivation and despair and they will be held accountable for the lives lost.

As we work to bring peace to Darfur, we will continue to work with both parties to Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement to ensure its full and complete implementation. All parties must see this through if Sudan and the surrounding region are to enjoy lasting stability.

I have worked closely and directly with General Gration for several years, and have traveled with him to refugee camps in Chad filled with those who were displaced by the genocide in Darfur. He is a valued personal friend and I am pleased he has accepted this assignment. He knows the region, has broad experience, and has my complete confidence. Standing alongside Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice, his appointment is a strong signal of my Administration's commitment to support the people of Sudan while seeking a lasting settlement to the violence that has claimed so many innocent lives.

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