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Sudan Tribune

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German parties against sending peacekeepers to Sudan

BERLIN, Jan 02, 2004 (IPS/GIN) — Recent statements by a state minister on the possibility of sending German peacekeepers to Sudan, triggered mixed reactions of astonishment and opposition from German parties and the military institution, a German newspaper reported yesterday.

Deutsche Zeitung newspaper reported Thursday on its website that Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry Kerstin Mueller Mueller had not consulted with the government before making such statements.

It also quoted unnamed sources as saying the defense ministry had no prior knowledge of such a proposal and denied plans for sending peacekeepers to Sudan.

Upon returning Tuesday, December 30, from an African tour, that took her to Sudan, Mueller had told Berliner Zeitung that the government will examine the scope of its military participation in a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping mission in Sudan once a peace agreement is hammered out.

The Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan people’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are reportedly in the final phase of thrashing out a peace agreement that would bring to an end more than 20 years of civil strive in the African country.

Military sources told Deutsche Zeitung that sending German troops on outside missions at the present time is beyond the capabilities of the German army.

Meanwhile, the German Foreign Ministry said Wednesday on its website that Mueller only meant to reaffirm Germany’s support to ongoing peace negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLM.

The state minister, a member of the Green Party, proposed sending a few numbers of German troops as well as groups of civilian experts specialized in the fields of infrastructure.

He statements were immediately denounced and opposed by the country’s opposition parties.

Joerg Van Essen, head of the Liberal Democratic party parliamentary bloc, stressed Wednesday that people expect Mueller to work for improving the conditions of the German troops abroad and bring them home.

Germany has a number of military units operating as peacekeepers in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan under the U.N. mandate.