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US presidential contender calls for military intervention in Darfur

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By Wasil Ali

May 21, 2007 (WASHINGTON) — Sen. Joseph Biden, the aspiring Democratic nominee for US presidency, said that he would send U.S. troops to end the Darfur conflict.

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Joe Biden

Biden made these remarks following his meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to receive an update on efforts made to resolve the Darfur crisis. Biden stressed that Sudan has forfeited its sovereignty by allowing genocide to occur in Darfur.

Biden, who chairs the US Senate foreign relations committee, has been one of the most outspoken US lawmakers in urging the US administration intervention in Darfur. Last month Biden summoned Andrew Natsios, President Bush’s Special envoy to Sudan to testify before the committee on the Darfur crisis. Natsios came under fire from Biden and other US lawmakers who expressed impatience with lack of progress in Darfur.

The prominent US lawmaker indicated a sense of frustration by saying that “we cannot wait five or six or seven months for there to be any action taken on the ground,". He added that “there’s a need for a political solution, but you must stem the bleeding now."

A three-phase plan floated last year by then UN chief Kofi Annan is supposed to culminate in the deployment of UN peacekeepers to bolster the embattled African force in Darfur, a region the size of France.

But Khartoum has accepted only the first two stages of the plan, accusing the Western powers of plotting to recolonize the country under the guise of the UN mission. The second phase is supposed to set the infrastructure for the UN-AU hybrid forces as part if the final stage of the plan.

Khartoum’s acceptance of the second phase of the plan is still in question given the contradictory statements of Sudanese officials. Last week the spokesman for Sudan’s foreign ministry Ali al-Sadek, said that his government will not provide the logistics needed for the accommodation of the UN troops that will be deployed in Darfur without funding from the UN to the AU troops.

Biden endorsed President Bush’s threat to Khartoum of further sanctions “if no action is taken by consent from Sudan.". The US lawmaker said that if it was hid decision he would “impose a no-fly zone immediately” and “commit forces to stop the Janjaweed”. However he stressed that these are his personal opinions on the matter.

The US has threatened Sudan with a ‘Plan B’ if it doesn’t agree to the proposed deployment of a "hybrid" force of 20,000 United Nations and AU peacekeepers and police officers. However the US has held off on sanctions at the request of the UN Secretary General.

Last week the US has signaled its impatience with the fruitless diplomacy of the UN Secretary General. US officials recently revealed to Reuters that the White House may proceed with sanctions as very soon pending a decision from President Bush.

(ST)

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