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Arab League Backs Palestinian Government, AU Troops in Darfur


The European Union has joined the Arab League in pledging financial aid to African Union peacekeeping troops in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

An EU spokesman in Brussels said Wednesday the group is setting aside $60 million to help pay for a six-month extension of the peacekeeping force. Earlier, the Arab League concluded a two-day summit in Khartoum with a pledge of $150 million to the African Union troops in Darfur.

Separately, NATO said it has agreed to a request by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to look at financial support for the African peacekeeping contingent. NATO already supports the AU by providing airlifts and training for troops deployed in Darfur.

Sudan has resisted Western pressure to let the United Nations, or any outside force, take over for the AU troops in Darfur.

Also during the Arab summit, leaders endorsed Palestinian party Hamas and recommended that the Arab League continue to give $55 million per month to the Palestinian Authority.

The league issued what it called the Khartoum Declaration, which summarizes agreements made at the summit. It endorsed the recent Palestinian parliamentary elections and called on the international community to respect Hamas' victory.

The Arab leaders also renewed their commitment to a 2002 Arab peace initiative, which offers Israel a comprehensive peace in return for a withdrawal from Arab lands. Israel has rejected that initiative.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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