Tension In Rice Visit To Sudan

In this April 20, 2010 photo, television producer Shawn Ryan, left, works on the pilot of his new police drama "Ride-Along" in Chicago.
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
CBS News Reporter Charles Wolfson is a former Tel Aviv bureau chief for CBS News, who now covers the State Department.

There was some tension in Khartoum Thursday, as Sudanese security personnel shoved senior staff of visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - as well as media covering her visit - intended to pressure the government to do more to help the millions of refugees who fled during the 'ethnic cleansing' of 2003 and 2004.

CBS News Reporter Charles Wolfson reports the trouble with Rice's staff and the reporters traveling with the Secretary of State developed after her meetings with President Omar Al Bashir, Foreign Minister Mustafah Osman Ismail and first Vice President John Garang De Mabior - the former rebel leader who took office 11 days ago.

Sudanese security forces began pushing Rice's senior staff and some members of the press corps, to keep them out of the room where the meeting occurred, at a time when photo ops and media statements might typically happen.

"American officials were grabbed at the front door and manhandled," said Jim Wilkinson, a senior adviser to Rice. "Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough your guests up."

Khidir Haroun Ahmed, head of Sudan's mission to the U.S., soon afterward was apologetic in his comments to reporters, saying the security personnel actions were "not intended to prevent you from doing your job."

On her plane before leaving to visit a refugee camp in Darfur, Rice told reporters the Sudanese security forces "have no right to push and shove" and indicated she would seek a formal apology from the Sudanese government.

Click here to hear Wolfson's report on the incident.

That apology came an hour later, as her plane landed at the El Fasher airport in the province of Darfur, when the foreign minister called to apologize for the treatment of her staff and the reporters present for the incident.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com