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UN Report Says Sudan Flying Weapons to Darfur 


A United Nations report is accusing Sudan of flying weapons and heavy military equipment into Darfur in violation of Security Council resolutions. Correspondent Peter Heinlein at the U.N. tells us further sanctions against Khartoum are being considered.

Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones-Parry, says a resolution is in the works that would push Sudan to halt the violence in its western Darfur region.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in London that talks on the resolution would begin Thursday.

Ambassador Jones-Parry, the Security Council president for April, says no decision has been made about whether the measure would include penalties against the Sudanese government.

"To the extent now that a sanctions resolution would help us and would encourage and penalize those people who should be penalized for what they've been doing is one of the questions that's being debated," he said.

"But what the U.K. is working on with the United States and France is the content of a resolution, and we're finalizing the resolution," he added.

Talk of possible sanctions comes a day before the expected publication of a report by a panel of U.N. experts accusing Sudan of flying arms and heavy military equipment into Darfur in violation of previous Council resolutions.

The report, including photographs, alleges that Sudan is painting its military planes white to make them look like United Nations or African Union aircraft.

The Khartoum government has denied the charges.

A leaked copy of the report is already available on the Web site of the New York Times newspaper, which published excerpts and pictures in its Wednesday edition.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas Wednesday said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply concerned about the report's findings, and is asking Khartoum for an explanation.

"He is especially troubled by reports that private or national aircraft have been illegally provided with U.N. markings [for] military purposes," she said. "If further substantiated, such efforts would be in clear violation of international law and in contravention of the U.N's international status."

President Bush also warned Sudan Wednesday it must halt the violence in Darfur or face sanctions. But several powerful Security Council members say they would oppose further penalties at this time.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, noted that only this week the Khartoum government had agreed to allow a contingent of U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur.

"We don't think it's the right time," he said. "It would be very strange. After a long while we have this positive development in the dialogue between the U.N. and Khartoum and all of a sudden to come back with some sanctions would not be good."

China's deputy U.N. envoy Liu Zhenmin made a similar comment, saying it would be better not to move in the direction of sanctions.

South African envoy Dumisani Kumalo argued that penalties against Khartoum would be counterproductive.

"Now what is this, coming with sanctions now, I don't know, to achieve what," he said.

Fighting in Darfur began more than four years ago when rebels in the remote western region launched an uprising against the Khartoum government. Monitors say the violence has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced more than two million others.

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