Former Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel to Southern Sudan this week as part of the U.S. delegation attending ceremonies marking the independence of the world's newest nation.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will lead the delegation to Juba, the capital of the newly formed Southern Sudan. Residents in the south voted in a January referendum to break away from the north and will officially celebrate their independence on Saturday.
Powell, who ran the State Department under former President George W. Bush, was instrumental in brokering the 2005 peace accord between the north and south that stopped a two-decade civil war in Sudan and paved the way for the independence vote.
The U.S. backed the south's push for independence, and the Obama administration had long said it would formally recognize Southern Sudan.
In March, Obama named Princeton Lyman as his new special envoy to Sudan, with the task of helping oversee the creation of an independent Southern Sudan. Lyman will also be part of the U.S. delegation at the weekend ceremonies.
Southern Sudan will be born one of the poorest countries in the world. It has only a couple dozen miles of pavement and literacy levels are low. But the south does have oil, and those in control of government funds appear to be growing in prosperity.
Others who will represent the U.S. in Juba include:
_Rep. Donald Payne, D- N.J., the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.
_Brooke Anderson, deputy national security adviser and chief of staff for the National Security Council.
_Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. Africa Command.