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Sudan Tribune

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US wants Sudan to accept more UN troops in Darfur

April 17, 2007 (N’DJAMENA) — The United States said on Tuesday Sudan was not doing enough to implement a peace accord in its conflict-torn Darfur region and urged Khartoum to allow a 17,000-20,000 strong U.N. peacekeeping force there.

John Negroponte
John Negroponte
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said in the Chadian capital N’Djamena that while Sudan’s acceptance of a U.N. support package for the African Union (AU) force in Darfur was “important”, many more peacekeepers were required.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also criticized Sudan, saying in London that what was happening in Darfur was a scandal and that more pressure must be put on the Sudanese government to make it “understand its responsibilities.”

At least 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million uprooted from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when rebellion broke out, leading to fighting between government troops and Janjaweed militiamen on one side and rebels on the other.

“In all three areas — humanitarian, security and political — the government of Sudan is not doing what it could to ensure the proper implementation of the DPA (Darfur Peace Agreement),” Negroponte told a news conference in Chad, his latest stop on a tour to try to find solutions to the Darfur crisis.

“We believe it’s important and urgent that additional peacekeepers be sent (to Darfur), increasing the number … to 17-20,000,” he added.

Negroponte was commenting on Sudan’s acceptance on Monday of an interim plan to let 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur to reinforce the AU force struggling to keep the peace there — the most substantial concession by Khartoum to date on this issue.

In London, Blair told a news conference “I believe what is happening in Darfur is a scandal that the world must act to stop.

“It is clear that the only thing that will make the Sudanese government understand its responsibilities is pressure and we must be prepared at the U.N. Security Council, if they do not agree to the U.N. package, to pass a strong resolution with sanctions in respect of the Sudanese government.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday’s agreement “a very positive sign” and said the United Nations and the African Union would move quickly to recruit the peacekeepers, who would man control centers but not join infantry units.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, in charge of U.N. peacekeeping, told reporters he would meet on Thursday with potential contributors to the force, which would serve under African Union command.

But U.N. officials said it may take six months to recruit and deploy the new troops, whose number is far smaller than the 20,000 troops and police the United Nations wants to send.

The United States has voiced skepticism about Monday’s accord, noting Khartoum had reneged on previous agreements to let troops into Darfur.

(Reuters)