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Sudan Weighs UN Military Visit


Sudan says it is weighing the possibility of allowing United Nations military planners into the war-torn Darfur region, to assess the situation there. A Security Council resolution passed Tuesday gives Sudan one week to allow a U.N. team into Darfur.

Sudan has called Tuesday's Security Council resolution on Darfur unnecessary. The unanimous resolution gives Sudan a deadline of one week to admit a U.N. team into Darfur to plan for the deployment of peacekeepers in the region.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jamal Ibrahim told VOA that Sudan was surprised by the resolution.

Ibrahim says Sudan is not interested in a "confrontation" with the United Nations and is considering allowing the military team into Darfur.

"I feel there is no need for such a threat. Regarding allowing the team into Sudan, this could have been done directly with contacts with our mission in New York," he said. "There is no need for a Security Council resolution. It gives a very wrong message that Sudan is not cooperating with the Security Council. This is not true, of course."

Ibrahim says he expects a decision to be made by Thursday.

But the Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that Sudan does not want U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, yet.

The African Union Peace and Security Council voted in March to extend the AU mission in Darfur until September, when it is expected to turn the mission over to U.N. peacekeepers.

But critics charge that the United Nations should enter sooner. The underfunded AU mission has only 7,000 troops patrolling a remote area the size of France and has been crippled by a weak mandate.

Sudan has refused to allow U.N. peacekeepers into the region, despite intense international pressure.

The three-year conflict began when Darfuris launched a rebellion, complaining that the region remained undeveloped because of political and economic marginalization by the central government. The Sudan government is charged with arming militias to crush the rebellion - a charge it denies.

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