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AU Says Sudan Agrees To Extend Darfur Peacekeeping Mission, But No UN Force


The African Union says Sudan will allow the group to extend its peacekeeping mission in the country's Darfur region but will not allow U.N. forces to join them. Neighboring Chad, meanwhile, says it will welcome U.N. peacekeepers on its territory to stop the violence in Darfur from spreading. Jordan Davis reports from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

The African Union's 7,000 strong peacekeeping force was set leave Darfur by end of the year. But A.U. officials say they now can stay for another six months.

African leaders from across the continent met in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, Thursday. They had hoped to convince Sudan to allow a larger, joint U.N. force to patrol the province.

But Sudan said no. Speaking to reporters, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said he preferred an African force, but might allow the United Nations to provide technical assistance.

But concern is mounting that violence in Darfur could destabilize neighboring countries. Chad's president, Idriss Deby, earlier Thursday said he would allow U.N. peacekeepers to patrol the border.

Deby said he hoped the troops would prevent cross-border violence.

Leaders of Chad and the Central African Republic say rebel movements have used the remote Darfur region as a staging area or for attacks on their countries.

Earlier this month, Arab militias burned villages in eastern Chad, driving residents from their homes. It was a pattern of violence similar to that seen in Darfur.

Chad has accused Sudan of backing the attacks. Officials in Khartoum deny they support either rebel movements or the militias.

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