The U.N. Secretary General says Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi strongly supports African Union and U.N. efforts to end the war in Sudan's conflict-ridden province of Darfur. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA, Ban Ki-moon discussed the Darfur crisis with Gadhafi at the Libyan leader's residence in Sirte, 450 kilometers northeast of the capital Tripoli.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi expressed full support for African Union/U.N.- mediated negotiations to end the four-year old conflict in Darfur.
The two men spent an hour in talks in the presence of aides, followed by a 25 minute face-to-face encounter in which they discussed a range of issues related to moving the peace process along. Libya is due to host the renewed Darfur peace negotiations on October 27.
Mr. Ban says he is sure Libya is serious about playing a constructive role in the talks. "I am confident. As you may recall, Libya has been playing a very important and constructive role since last year in facilitating and playing a mediating role between Sudan and Chad through a very important Tripoli agreement in February last year…We are now able to aim for a final settlement of this issue," he says.
Mr. Gadhafi hosted the meeting in a tent at his palatial residence in his desert hometown of Sirte. Mr. Ban told his host the meeting was an unexpected and exciting experience for him.
When the meeting was over, Mr. Ban told journalists that the Libyan leader promised to do everything possible to bring the leaders of all the different movements to the negotiating table.
Eight key rebel groups have agreed to attend the talks. Only Abdul Wahid, the popular leader of the Sudan Liberation Army, has said he will not come.
Mr. Ban says the Libyan leader has influence with the rebel groups and that Mr. Gadhafi's support can help make the talks a success. "I told him that this forthcoming political negotiating meeting should be a final phase in addressing this issue. And, we agreed. And, he also expressed his support that we need to work to make this as a final phase and the final settlement of this issue," he says.
War erupted in 2003 between the Sudanese-backed Arab Janjaweed militia and African rebel groups. Since then, about 200-thousand people have been killed and more than two-and-one-half million have become refugees and internally displaced.
Ban Ki-moon says the war in Darfur threatens its neighbors. He says the political situation has changed and the time is ripe to pursue a durable peace agreement that will enhance security in the region.