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Annan Calls For High Level Meeting on Sudan's Darfur


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for a high level meeting in Ethiopia Thursday to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The U.N. and African Union have invited the countries that are permanent members of the Security Council as well as representatives of the Arab League, the European Union, and the Sudanese government.

The attempt to move the peace process forward comes amid new reports of violence in Darfur, where at least 37 people have died recently in attacks by suspected Arab militias.

Meanwhile, neighboring Chad has declared a state of emergency after ethnic violence in the country's east killed hundreds of people.

The U.N. refugee agency reported last week that armed men on horseback attacked, looted, and burned at least nine villages in southeastern Chad. The agency said it had reports that more than 200 people were killed.

The United Nations says some attackers may have crossed the border from Darfur.

Sudan has resisted allowing a U.N. force into Darfur despite strong pressure from the U.N., the United States, and Britain.

Expected to attend Thursday's meeting are Security Council members the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China, as well as the African countries of Egypt, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which currently holds the rotating A.U. presidency.

More than three years of fighting in the region have left an estimated 200,000 people dead and displaced some two million others from their homes.

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