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US Reacts Cautiously to Sudan's Acceptance of Darfur Peacekeepers


The United States has reacted cautiously to news that Sudan has accepted a plan to place a joint U.N.-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur.

A U.S. State Department official said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has made promises before about accepting a U.N.-AU, but he said there is always "fine print."

The spokesman said it is not clear if Sudan will accept non-African troops. He said if Sudan does not, it amounts to a rejection of the full force, because African nations will likely not be able to provide the entire 17,000 to 19,000 proposed troops.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, also raised concerns about the implementation of the plan, and said he and other diplomats are seeking clarification of certain points, including whether Sudan will accept non-African troops.

Sudan has demanded in the past that all peacekeepers be African, and that the force be under African Union control.

However, a Sudanese Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday that if there are not enough contributions from Africa, troops could be brought in from elsewhere.

It was not clear what decision was made by Sudan, the U.N. and the AU on who would have ultimate control of the peacekeeping force.

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