Q & A: Franklin Graham
How do you evaluate the Sudan peace process right now?
It's close. There are a few areas that seem to be a hang up. Former President Jimmy Carter called me last week about one of the provinces. He was hoping I could have General [John] Garang's influence [Garang leads the Sudan People's Liberation Army]. But I'm a little bit reluctant to get involved, because I think the negotiations over these provinces as to who has control—whether it's SPLA or the government—has to be negotiated at their level. And I think we need to encourage both sides to compromise to work it out.
But if one group is forced to accept a position that the people on the ground will not accept, you're not going to have peace. The people on the ground have to be willing to accept it. And if the leaders sign but the people don't buy it, it's not going to work. But I think they are close and it's going to take, I think, maybe more pressure on the government than on the SPLA. I think we need to hold the government's feet to the fire on this.
You visited Sudan in December. How is the regime treating Christians?
That's a difficult question to answer, because there is an atmosphere in the capital city that peace is at hand. Everyone is sick of war. The government is sick of it. The SPLA [is] sick of it. The people on the streets are tired of it.
The Christians have suffered greatly over the last 20 years, and I think, in some areas of the country, that persecution continues. I'm not saying that it's being encouraged by the government, but it is certainly taking place.
Now the government was very cordial to me. President [Omar al-] Bashir … jokes and laughs and that sort of thing. He said he wanted to convert me to Islam, and I told him I would love ...