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Bush Wants UN in Darfur as Soon as Possible


President Bush says he wants to see U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan's troubled Darfur region as soon as possible. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House, the president discussed the matter Monday with the current chair of the African Union, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

President Bush says there is a common commitment to help end what he calls the genocide in Darfur.

Speaking to reporters after his talks with the president of the Republic of Congo, Mr. Bush talked about all that has been done so far, and the work that lies ahead.

"I appreciate the president's leadership in helping negotiate a peace agreement, and I appreciate his leadership in working with the United Nations, so we can get the AU forces blue-helmeted as quickly as possible," he said.

The African Union currently has more than 7,000 peacekeepers in Darfur. With the signing of a peace treaty on May 5 between the Sudanese government and the main rebel group, plans began in earnest to expand the peacekeeping effort, and place it under United Nations control.

Sudanese leaders have voiced reservations about bringing in U.N. forces, saying it could amount to an invasion of their country. A Security Council delegation is now in Khartoum to ease those concerns, and convince the Sudanese government to accept a U.N. operation

Since 2003, fighting involving rebels, Sudanese government forces and Arab militias has killed an estimated 180,000 people in Darfur and left about two million homeless.

Other topics that were on the agenda for the meeting with President Sassou-Nguesso included the fight against AIDS, and economic development in Africa.

The two men will meet again in July at the Group of Eight economic summit in Russia. Mr. Sassou-Nguesso will represent the African continent at the meeting, and will attend at the personal invitation of Russian President Vladmir Putin, the G-8 host.

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