Home | News    Tuesday 31 October 2006

British PM to urge Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur

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Oct 31, 2006 (LONDON) — Prime Minister Tony Blair will urge Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeepers for Darfur when he meets Tuesday with a Sudanese vice president, the prime minister’s spokesman said.

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Tony Blair

Blair was holding talks with Salva Kiir Mayardit, a former leader of Sudan’s southern rebels who has publicly disagreed with President Omar al Bashir over the proposed U.N. force.

Earlier this month, Blair urged fellow European leaders to exert "maximum pressure" in Khartoum to ease fighting in the violence-wracked region, where a three-year war has left some 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced. Sudan’s government is accused of unleashing brutal militiamen known as Janjaweed in the remote western province.

The U.N. has authorized 20,000 troops to replace an under-equipped force of 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. But the Sudanese government has rejected the U.N. force, and last week expelled the U.N.’s Sudan envoy, Jan Pronk.

Blair’s official spokesman said the prime minister "believes that all sides should stop fighting, all sides should engage with the U.N. and the Sudanese government in particular should allow the U.N. to take over the operations of the African Union forces."

Kiir also was due to meet International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, who visited Darfur earlier this month. A scheduled news conference with Kiir was canceled due to unforeseen commitments, the department of international development said.

(AP)

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