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UN Security Council Presses Khartoum to Implement 2005 Peace Agreement


A U.N. Security Council delegation met with government officials in Khartoum Wednesday, pressing them to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to cooperate with the International Criminal Court which charges that some government officials are implicated in crimes against humanity in Darfur. VOA's Margaret Besheer is traveling with the delegation and files this report from the Sudanese capital.

Security Council ambassadors pressed Sudan's government to fully implement the 2005 peace agreement that ended the north-south civil war, pointing to recent clashes in the town of Abyei as evidence that frustrations are growing and threatening the wider peace.

British Ambassador John Sawers led the delegation's meetings in Khartoum.

"The implementation is behind track, and there is a lot of frustration, particularly in the south, and that frustration has contributed to the appalling events we saw in Abyei a few weeks ago, when an entire town was flattened and its population driven out," said Sawers.

He said parties to the talks reported there has been some progress, but there are still difficult issues to be resolved.

The delegation also took up the issue of western Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. Diplomats welcomed signs of improved cooperation from Khartoum regarding the deployment of thousands of U.N. and AU peacekeepers, saying senior officials confirmed a verbal promise made to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Khartoum would accept non-African battalions from Thailand and Nepal as long as Egyptian and Ethiopian troops deploy first.

Darfur is at the top of the council's agenda, and it plans to visit the war-torn region on Thursday.

But the talks with the government were not all positive. Ambassador Sawers characterized discussions with senior presidential aides regarding Sudan's cooperation with the International Criminal Court as "unsatisfactory".

The Court's chief prosecutor, Luis Ocampo, said in a report to the Security Council that he will bring charges against senior government members he alledges are implicated in crimes against humanity in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died in five years of conflict.

Sudan's U.N. Ambassador, who is in Khartoum, called the report "fictitious and vicious" and said Ocampo is wrecking the peace process.

Costa Rica's ambassador, Jorge Urbina, said it was very clear the Sudanese do not intend to fulfill their international obligations and cooperate with the ICC.

"That puts us and also the court in a very difficult position and I believe the government of Sudan in a very difficult position -- because you cannot ignore indefinitely the orders of the court; you cannot ignore indefinitely a resolution of the Security Council," said Urbina.

Ocampo is to brief Security Council members in New York Thursday, and council members said they will consider their options after that.

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