By Julian Pecquet - 09/15/12 07:11 PM EDT
The State Department is shutting down its embassy in Khartoum amid reports that the Sudanese government may have rejected the Obama administration's request to send Marines to protect the compound from rioters.
The Sudan news agency SUNA reported Saturday that Foreign Minister Ali Karti discussed the possibility of sending a platoon of about 50 Marines with an unidentified senior State Department official Friday night.
The report says Sudan “has apologized for the reception of these forces” and reaffirmed “Sudan's ability to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the State's obligation to protect its guests,” raising doubts about whether the U.S. request was accepted.
The Associated Press also reported Saturday that the State Department had ordered all family members and non-emergency personnel from their posts in Sudan and Tunisia. On Friday, the State Department announced on Twitter that the Khartoum embassy would be closed Sunday and advised all American citizens to “stay away from Embassy until further notice.”
State Department officials, though, declined on Saturday to say whether Sudan had rejected the Marine presence.
“The Government of Sudan has recommitted itself both publicly and privately to continue to protect our Mission, as it is obligated to do under the Vienna Convention,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in an e-mailed statement. “We have requested additional security 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.”
Protesters incensed by an anti-Islam movie posted to YouTube by a southern California man breached the U.S. and German embassy compounds in Khartoum on Friday, and Sudanese security forces killed at least two protesters.
The Pentagon has already sent about 100 Marines to Libya and Yemen as anti-U.S. violence engulfs the Middle East.
This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.