Saturday, April 28, 2007

U.N., Sudan Agree Darfur Force Urgent

The Associated Press
Friday, April 27, 2007; 12:07 AM

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that he and Sudan's president have agreed on the need for a quick decision to deploy a new United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in the Darfur region.

Ban told The Associated Press in an interview that he spoke to President Omar al-Bashir by phone this week about getting U.N. troops and equipment into Darfur to beef up the 7,000-strong AU force. The peacekeepers have been unable to end the four-year conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes.

Al-Bashir agreed in November to a three-phase U.N. plan to strengthen the AU force. But he has since backed off the deployment of the third and final phase _ a 20,000-strong "hybrid" U.N.-AU force, saying he would only allow a larger African force with technical and logistical support from the United Nations. more