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Sudan Tribune

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European Union urges more diplomacy on Darfur

Oct 17, 2006 (LUXEMBOURG) — The European Union on Tuesday urged Sudan to stop the growing violence in Darfur but stopped short of threatening sanctions to force Khartoum to allow United Nations peacekeepers into the troubled region.

Sudan is resisting international pressure to allow 20,000 U.N. troops into Darfur to replace a poorly equipped African Union peacekeeping force of 7,000.

Some 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by the three-year-old conflict in the western Sudanese region.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank said last week that diplomacy over Darfur had failed and the international community must now consider sanctions against Sudan to pressure it into accepting U.N. peacekeepers.

But on Tuesday the EU supported further diplomatic efforts to try to persuade Khartoum to accept U.N. peacekeepers.

“The (EU) Council observed the need to address the Sudanese government’s possible concerns in relation to the deployment of a U.N. force in Darfur,” EU foreign ministers said at their regular monthly briefing.

Khartoum says the U.N. force is an attempt at recolonisation by Western powers. Critics say they fear U.N. troops would arrest officials likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The British minister for International Development, Hilary Benn, said on a visit to Sudan on Monday that the U.N. Security Council would soon have to look at other options if Sudan continued to refuse a U.N. mission.

U.S. President George W. Bush last week signed a law imposing sanctions against those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Sudan.

“The (EU) Council emphasised that a U.N. operation is the only realistic option for a sustainable, long-term peacekeeping operation in Darfur,” foreign ministers said in a statement adopted at their regular monthly meeting.

Ministers “called for an immediate end to the ongoing violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

(Reuters)

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