Home | News    Thursday 14 December 2006

Sudan dismisses Blair threats, welcomes UN mission

Dec 14, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan dismissed on Thursday British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s threats of sanctions and a "no-fly zone" over Darfur and said it welcomed a U.N. mission in the region "as long as it reflects the reality on the ground".

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Tony Blair

A spokesman for the British prime minister, citing comments made by Blair last week, said on Wednesday Britain would agree to a no-fly zone over the war-ravaged region as part of a United Nations-sanctioned "Plan B" to halt the violence there.

"Statements like this ... do not enhance peace," said Al-Samani al-Wasiyla, the Sudanese state minister for foreign relations. "They prolong the crisis," he told Reuters.

"We do not deal with media statements ... and we do not need threats to deal with the international community," he said.

Experts say around 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since rebels took up arms against the government in Darfur in 2003, accusing it of neglect.

Sudan says Western media have invented and exaggerated the crisis in Darfur and only 9,000 people have died there.

The violence prompted the new United Nations human rights watchdog to agree on Wednesday to send a high-level mission to Darfur to investigate allegations of worsening abuses against the civilian population.

The proposal was approved by the 47-state Human Rights Council, launched in June as part of U.N. reform and under pressure to show it can act effectively on Darfur.

The proposal, a consensus deal agreed after two days of tough haggling, left the council chairman to name the five "highly qualified" team members.

Al-Wasiyla said his government would welcome the commission as long as it came in good faith.

"We have never closed our door in the face of any committee as long as it wants to help us," he said. "We will deal with it and want it to reflect what it sees on the ground."

(Reuters)