The Sudanese government bitterly criticized new U.S. economic sanctions, describing the measures as "unfair and untimely" and urging the rest of the world to ignore them.
U.S. President George W. Bush announced that the United States was enforcing sanctions that bar 31 Sudanese companies owned or controlled by Sudan's government from the U.S. banking system. The new sanctions would also prevent three Sudanese individuals from conducting business with U.S. companies or banks.
"We believe this decision is unfair and untimely," Sudan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Sadiq told The Associated Press.
Bush said the sanctions were decided because Sudan has resisted United Nations efforts to send a large U.N. peacekeeping mission to Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes in four years of fighting between Sudanese forces and local rebels.
The U.S. move also came as the Security Council where Sudan's top ally, China, has veto-yielding power seemed to stall at imposing more widespread sanctions on Khartoum.
Sadiq said the U.N. was not keen on imposing broader sanctions because Sudan accepted in April a first batch of 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers to reinforce the overwhelmed African Union force already deployed in Darfur.
"These American measures come at a time when Sudan is actively discussing peace in Darfur and working on the hybrid force," of U.N. and AU peacekeepers, Sadiq said.
"We invite the international community to ignore and condemn these sanctions," he said.
He also warned that the U.S. move would "give the wrong signal" to rebel groups fighting in Darfur.