June 10, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived in Khartoum on Sunday ahead of talks with President Omar al-Beshir on the crisis in war-torn Darfur.
On Monday Kouchner will also meet his Sudanese counterpart Lam Akol, and will “urge Sudan to accept the deployment of a hybrid (peacekeeping) force” in Darfur, a French diplomatic source said.
Sudan has grudgingly accepted a UN force in Darfur, although the troops’ mandate is still under discussion.
The proposal is for the deployment of a 23,000-strong peacekeeping force to replace the current 7,000 African Union soldiers in the region.
The United Nations wants its own command system but Khartoum wants the force to be under African control.
According to UN figures, more than 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced in four years of conflict in Darfur which the United States has called a “genocide.”
Sudan says that only some 9,000 people have died.
Kouchner is on the final stop of an African tour that has also taken him to Sudan’s western neighbour Chad and to Mali, where he attended the investiture of new president Amadou Toumani Toure.