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UN special envoy arrives in Sudan to discuss Darfur crisis

Dec 20, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — The U.N. Secretary general’s special envoy to Sudan arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday on a one-off mission to push for the government to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, officials said.

Ahmedou Ould Abdallah would deliver a message from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir following up on phone calls between the two on the standoff over the U.N.’s role in Darfur, said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric earlier this week.

The official Sudanese news agency, SUNA, said Ould Abdallah held talks upon his arrival Wednesday with the Sudanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Karti, but did give details on their exchange.

Sudan opposes a U.N. Security Council plan to send some 20,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2,5 million made refugee in nearly four years of fighting.

Instead, it calls for the U.N. to reinforce the overwhelmed African Union force deployed in the vast, arid region, which is nearly the size of Texas.

Sudan, the U.N. and the AU had agreed in principle on a “joint mission” during a meeting in November, but the Sudanese government has since largely backtracked on the scope of this hybrid force.

Militias of Arab nomads allied to Khartoum are accused of the worst atrocities in the conflict, which began when local ethnic African rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated central government. Khartoum denies backing the militias, and -despite near daily reports of spiraling violence and evacuations of aid workers- says the Darfur crisis is being blown out of proportions by Western government and media.

The African Union said its representatives in Khartoum met with the U.N. envoy on Wednesday and “expressed concern over the prevailing security situation in some parts of Darfur.”

The AU and the U.N. “appealed for the cessation of hostilities on the ground to create a conducive environment for the success of the political process,” said an African Union statement.

(AP)

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Below the AU statement on the meeting between UN specail envoy and the Acting Head of AU Mission in the Sudan


AFRICAN MISSION IN SUDAN

Press Release

UNSG Special Envoy Mr. Ould-Abdallah visits AMIS Headquarters

Dec 20, 2006 — The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, paid a visit to AMIS Headquarters today Wednesday, 20/12/2006, where he was received by the Acting Head of Mission, Madame Monique Mukaruliza and the senior staff of the Mission. The special envoy was accompanied by Mr. Taye Zerihoun, officer in charge of the UNMIS and other UN personnel.

The two parties reviewed latest developments in Darfur particularly as they relate to the renewed efforts to re-energize the political process. Madame Mukaruliza and Mr. Ould-Abdallah re-emphasized the importance of the long standing partnership between AU and UN in their common endeavour to restore peace and stability in Darfur.

The two AU and UN officials agreed that the outcome of the high level consultations which took place in Addis Ababa on 16 November 2006, which has been endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council at its meeting in Abuja on 30 November 2006, provide a good basis to refocus joint efforts to achieve this common objective. It was however reiterated that the full commitment of all parties involved is essential in this regard.

Ms Mukaruliza and Mr. Ould-Abdallah also expressed concern over the prevailing security situation in some parts of Darfur, and appealed for the cessation of hostilities on the ground to create a conducive environment for the success of the political process.

20 December, 2006

AMIS Headquarters, Khartoum

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