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Sudan Rejects UN Peacekeepers in Darfur


President Omar al-Bashir Tuesday categorically rejected the U.N. Security Council resolution extending the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers in southern Sudan to include Darfur. He spoke to reporters through a translator shortly before addresing the U.N. General Assembly.

"We of course do not agree to the expansion of any U.N forces presently in Sudan," he said. "We don't accept the expansion of their mandate, or their presence outside the Sudan.

The Sudanese leader said he would only accept African troops as peacekeepers, and suggested he would accept an extension of the mandate of the AU force that has tried with little success to police the vast Darfur region.

"The fact that majority of forces should be African, they should all be African under African Union's command," he said.

Mr. Bashir told the news conference conditions in Darfur are far better than what western news reports indicate. He charged that Zionist organizations are behind a campaign to spread misinformation as part of an effort to dismember Sudan.

"The media that is serving ulterior motives gives the idea as if the whole of Darfur is in chaos," he said.

Mr. Bashir's comments came hours after President Bush, in his U.N. General Assembly speech, repeated Washington's verdict that events in Darfur constitute genocide. Speaking directly to the region's people, Mr. Bush said he would push the Security Council to stop the killing, either with Sudanese permission or not.

"The regime in Khartoum is stopping deployment of this force. If the Sudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must act," he said. "Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake.

Mr. Bush called on NATO to provide more support to peacekeeping operations in Darfur.

President Bashir has in recent days indicated that he would support an extension of the African Union peacekeeping force mandate in Darfur. That mandate expires September 30. The AU Peace and Security Council meets Wednesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York, and is expected to approve the extension.

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