Home | News    Thursday 15 January 2004

Ahead of Schroeder’s Africa tour, Germany says willing to help stabilize Sudan

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By MICHAEL FISCHER Associated Press Writer

BERLIN, Jan 15, 2004 (AP) — Germany is willing to help stabilize Sudan following any final peace deal in the country’s 20-year civil war, a senior government official said Thursday ahead of a four-nation African tour by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Schroeder’s trip starting Sunday - his first to Africa since he took office in 1998 - will take him to Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana through Jan. 24.

Traveling with a 23-member business delegation that includes automaker DaimlerChrysler’s chief executive, Juergen Schrempp, and Lufthansa chief Wolfgang Mayrhuber, the chancellor hopes to dispel a "generally negative picture" of the continent, said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Schroeder intends to promote the nascent New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the continent’s roadmap to eradicate poverty, but also recognizes that Germany "cannot be entirely abstinent" from efforts to secure peace in Africa, the official said.

Berlin could send one or two senior military officers to participate in a U.N.-mandated cease-fire commission once a peace deal is reached for Sudan, Africa’s biggest country, he added.

While Germany could also provide unspecified "material help" to Sudan, it won’t consider a full-scale deployment of peacekeeping troops, the official said, noting that the military already is stretched by missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

Analysts say the U.S. government has been pushing the Muslim-led Sudanese government and rebels in the Christian and animist south to reach an agreement before President George W. Bush’s State of Union address next Tuesday.

The war has left more than 2 million dead, mostly from illness and famine, and made refugees of millions more.

Schroeder plans a speech to representatives of the African Union during his first stop Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the organization is based. In South Africa, his schedule includes a meeting with former President Nelson Mandela.

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