U.N. Envoys Arrive In Sudan Ahead Of Darfur Force

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The New York Sun

KHARTOUM, Sudan – A high-level U.N. delegation arrived yesterday in Sudan to press a reluctant government to accept a large force of U.N. peacekeepers in the strife-torn Darfur region.

Special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and the deputy head of U.N. peacekeeping, Hedi Annabi, hope Khartoum will respect a Security Council resolution for a U.N. force to take over peacekeeping from an under-equipped African Union mission, a spokesman said.

“The overall aim of the visit is to discuss the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and speed up the arrival of a U.N. peacekeeping force,” a U.N. spokesman, Bahar Elkoussy, said.

Messrs. Brahimi and Annabi are scheduled to meet President al-Bashir and Sudanese legislators during their four-day visit, Mr. Elkoussy said.

Mr. Elkoussy said the envoys’ first task would be trying to persuade the government to grant visas to a U.N. assessment team that would prepare for the transfer of the African Union peacekeeping mission to the U.N. force.

He said he did not know when the evaluation team would arrive.

“It all depends on the Sudanese government,” Mr. Elkoussy said, adding that the United Nations was optimistic that Khartoum would respect the Security Council resolution.

The chairman of the African Union commission,Alpha Konare, said yesterday after talks in London with Prime Minister Blair that U.N. peacekeepers should be deployed within two months.

“In two months it will be the rainy season, if confidence doesn’t reign again then – as far as troops are concerned – the situation could become worse,” Mr. Konare said.

The U.N. delegation arrived a day after Secretary-General Annan reported that Khartoum was violating international humanitarian law by barring fuel, food, and relief aid to civilians in Darfur.

The New York Sun

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