Home | News    Friday 29 October 2004

Russian and Congolese foreign ministers discuss Darfur crisis

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By MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writer

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Sergei Lavrov

MOSCOW, Oct 29, 2004 (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for increased economic cooperation between Russia and Africa’s third largest country — Congo — Friday, amid an array of discussions with his Congolese counterpart that also included the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

Speaking after talks with Congo’s Foreign Minister Rodolphe Adada, Lavrov praised political dialogue between Russia and Congo. The two also discussed fighting terrorism and security conflicts on the African continent, Adada said.

"It is important to raise economic (cooperation) in the relations between our countries to the level of political interactions," Lavrov said.

Lavrov and Adada also held talks on the situation in Sudan’s Darfur region, which the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Disease, hunger and violence amid a rebel uprising against the Khartoum government has claimed 70,000 lives since March while 1.5 million have fled their homes since February 2003.

The Sudanese government has said the U.N.’s death toll is hugely exaggerated, putting the figure at around 7,000.

Lavrov praised the international community’s efforts in solving the problem, but said that Sudan’s territorial integrity should be kept intact.

"As the African Union, we are convinced that the problems of Darfur and Sudan as a whole can be solved only with an unconditional respect of Sudan’s territorial integrity," Lavrov said.

Adada called for more money and aid to support African Union peacekeeping forces in the region. The 390-member force is supposed to expand to 3,320 soldiers by the end of November.

"We believe it is necessary to increase the presence of African forces in the Darfur region, but for that we need monetary and technical assistance from the international community," he said.

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