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Bush Says He Considered but Rejected Sending US Troops to Darfur


President Bush says he considered, but ultimately rejected, the idea of sending U.S. troops to halt the violence in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. From the White House, VOA's Scott Stearns reports.

Speaking to voters in the southern state of Tennessee Thursday, President Bush said he rejected the idea of unilaterally sending U.S. troops into Darfur after consultation with U.S. allies and members of Congress.

The president said he is focusing now on international collaboration through the United Nations.

"This is a slow, tedious process to hold a regime accountable for what only one nation in the world has called a genocide, and that is us," he said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions against Sudan including barring from the U.S. financial system 30 companies owned or controlled by the government of Sudan.

In April, Sudan's government agreed to a multi-national peacekeeping force to replace African Union troops currently in Darfur.

If there is no further progress in resolving the situation, Mr. Bush says he will call for an expanded arms embargo and the possible creation of a no-fly zone over Darfur to prevent any offensive military flights.

Tuesday, during a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Bush said he was encouraged by the Darfur briefing he got from Mr. Ban.

Speaking to reporters after their Oval Office meeting, Mr. Ban said U.N. officials have made headway in their talks with rebels in Darfur and the government in Khartoum.

"In the Darfur situation, we have made considerable progress. We are going to step-up the political process," he said.

More than four years of fighting in the western Sudanese region has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced more than two million others.

Sudan's government is accused of arming Arab militia blamed for many atrocities in the region. Khartoum denies any connection with that violence.

Secretary General Ban says pre-negotiations in Tanzania next month should help ease the way for the joint United Nations-African Union force which is to replace 7,000 undermanned African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.

Mr. Ban wants the Security Council to vote soon on a resolution approving the deployment of 20,000 military personnel and civilian police in the hybrid force.

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