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Bush Calls on Sudan Gov't to Approve UN Peacekeeping Presence in Darfur


President Bush is again calling on Sudan's government to approve a U.N. peacekeeping presence in the troubled Darfur region. He spoke after talks Thursday at the White House with Sudanese Vice President Salva Kiir.

The Sudanese government has so far rejected any U.N. presence in Darfur. President Bush says he strongly believes U.N. peacekeepers should move in to bolster the 7,000 African Union observers there.

"Our strategy is that we want AU forces to be complemented and blue-helmeted -- in other words, the United Nations should be invited in. We talked about how best to get that done in order to save lives. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to be done," Mr. Bush says.

Darfur was just one topic on the agenda for Mr. Bush's talks with Salva Kiir. Mr. Bush says they also discussed the process of national reconciliation in Sudan.

"I assured our friend that the United States is committed to helping the Sudanese people; we're committed to making sure that the peace agreement that we helped you negotiate is implemented," Mr. Bush says.

Kiir came to the White House in two capacities: as Vice-President of Sudan's unity government, and as the regional leader of Southern Sudan.

A peace treaty signed in January 2005 ended two decades of north-south fighting. The accord granted the south autonomy for six years, after which an independence referendum is to be held. The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003. A peace deal between the Khartoum government and Darfur rebels was reached in May, but the government has refused to accept U.N. troops.

Kiir said he is sure the Darfur crisis will be resolved. He also noted that the negotiation process that created the national unity government is continuing.

Kiir became Sudan's vice-president last month under the terms of the deal between the ruling National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement that ended more than two decades of bloodshed in the south.

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