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Sudan Tribune

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Arab League to help defuse Darfur crisis

Amr_Mussa.jpgCAIRO, Sept 16, 2004 (Xinhua) — Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said on Thursday that his organization would make more efforts to defuse the crisis gripping Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail, Moussa said the league has decided to contribute to funding African Union observers monitoring ceasefire in Darfur.

“The league will also help cover administrative expenses for peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups in the Nigerian capital of Abuja,” Moussa said.

He dismissed claims that the ongoing Abuja talks has collapsed, saying that the two sides are to meet on Oct. 10.

For his part, Ismail accused the United States of politicizing the Darfur crisis.

“The Sudanese government has reservations about a US-sponsored draft resolution calling for sanctions against Sudan,” he said.

“The draft contradicts with a report presented to the world body by UN envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk, who hailed progress by the Sudanese government in improving humanitarian conditions in Darfur,” he said.

“The US observer in the Abuja talks is close to the rebels and even calls on them to take tough positions,” he said, adding that Washington adds fuel to fire instead of putting it out.

On Tuesday, the United States softened its tone about possible UN sanctions against Sudan, but sticked to the threat of punitive measures if the Sudanese government could not end the bloodshed in Darfur.

US Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth distributed a revised text that threatened to consider sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry and called for an expanded African Union mission protection force in Darfur.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo on Tuesday, Ismail said the United States was trying to exploit the Darfur crisis to serve its political agenda — the presidential elections.