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NATO to continue to aid Darfur peacekeepers - official

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Sept 28, 2006 (PORTOROZ, Slovenia) — The African Union can continue to rely on NATO to provide airlifts and training for its peacekeepers in Darfur, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursday.

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African Union (AU) commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare (L) addresses a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the end of a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels May 17, 2005. (Reuters)

"Darfur will, as far as NATO is concerned, continue to see a continuation of what we are now giving to the African Union," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters after talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers.

The A.U. mission was scheduled to wrap up at the end of September and be replaced by a stronger U.N. force, but Sudan’s leaders fiercely opposed the move and the A.U. agreed to stay on until at least the end of the year.

The force is being expanded from 7,000 to 11,000 in an effort to beef up its efforts to halt fighting that has killed at least 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million to flee their homes since 2003.

(AP/ST)

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