(WASHINGTON) — Sudan has rejected a U.S. request to send 50 Marines to that country to help boost security at the American embassy in Khartoum, a U.S. official confirms.
With the Marines en route to Sudan on Friday night, a U.S. official said at the time that it appeared that Sudan might reverse an earlier decision to allow the 50 Marines to enter the country.
Sudan’s reversal was made public on Saturday when Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told SUNA, the official Sudanese news agency, that “Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps.”
A U.S. official said the Marines, “were on their way, but turned back” when Sudan rejected the U.S. request.
In a statement State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the Sudanese government “has recommitted itself both publicly and privately to continue to protect our Mission, as it is obligated to do under the Vienna Convention.”
She said the United States had requested “precautions as a result of yesterday’s damage to our Embassy. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure we have what we need to protect our people and facility.”
Violent protests have raged outside U.S. embassies in various Middle Eastern countries this week to protest a movie posted on the Internet that mocks the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Sudan was to be the third country this week to receive a platoon of 50 elite Marines known as a Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST). FAST Marines are specially trained to help protect U.S. embassies and citizens that might be under threats overseas. Before the teams can be dispatched, host countries must first approve a U.S. request for Marine reinforcements to enter their country.
A FAST platoon of 50 Marines was sent to Libya Wednesday to help protect the U.S. embassy in there following the deadly attack Tuesday on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Indications are that the attack on the consulate may have been an organized terrorist attack and not a result of any outrage motivated by the movie.
Another FAST platoon was dispatched to Yemen on Thursday after protesters breached the outer security perimeter at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Angela Dewan and Max Blau, CNN
Arwa Damon, Waffa Munayyer and Bryony Jones, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN