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Sudan Tribune

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Canada mulls adding troops in Sudan

April 5, 2006 (OTTAWA) — Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that his government was considering sending more troops to Sudan, where it has a small presence in international forces in the violent African country.

paul_martin_3.jpg“We have given that some preliminary consideration. We haven’t reached any final decision,” Harper told reporters outside the House of Commons in response to questions about Canada’s future role in Sudan.

“This is obviously something that would have to be worked out in concert with all of our allies, including the United States and others, and I do plan to have further discussions with President (George W.) Bush and others on the subject.”

Canada has 47 soldiers in Sudan: 32 with a United Nations mission and 15 with the African Union in the troubled, vast western region of Darfur.

Harper and Bush had discussed Sudan briefly at a recent North American leaders summit in Mexico, but no details of their talks were provided then.

Last month, the African Union agreed in principle to hand over its cash-strapped peacekeeping mission in Darfur to the United Nations, despite spirited resistance from Khartoum, which argued that the deployment would worsen the situation.

The 7,000-strong African Union, which was deployed in 2004, has been suffering from poor funding and inadequate resources to contain the escalating bloodshed in Darfur.

The United States has lobbied to send a new UN-led force, backed by NATO, and probably double the current AU deployment, to take over peacekeeping in Darfur despite Khartoum’s opposition.

Since war broke out in Darfur more than three years ago, the fighting and a dire humanitarian crisis have left up to 300,000 people dead and more than two million displaced, according to some estimates.

“Obviously, we’re anxious to do what we can to stop the massive humanitarian tragedy that is occurring in that part of the world,” Harper said.

“We are concerned. The humanitarian problem is enormous. It’s deeply shocking to anyone who is familiar with it. At the same time, we need to ensure that any political or peacekeeping initiative will be effective.”


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