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UN Security Council Envoys Tour Sudan's Darfur Region


Diplomats from the U.N. Security Council are in Sudan's Darfur region Thursday, reviewing efforts to resolve the area's five-year conflict.

The delegation flew into El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, for talks with the state governor, aid workers, and officials from the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission.

The diplomats made a brief visit to the Zam Zam displaced persons' camp, home to some 54,000 Darfur residents driven from their homes.

The delegation is due to return to Khartoum later today for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Mr. Bashir is facing pressure to allow a quicker deployment of U.N. and AU peacekeepers. The mission has just 9,000 troops out of a projected 26,000.

Sudan has been reluctant to approve non-African troops for the force. But Britain's U.N. ambassador, John Sawers, says Sudan has now agreed to admit troops from Thailand and Nepal once troops from Egypt and Ethiopia arrive.

In New York today, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal court is due to brief the Security Council about the situation in Darfur. In a report released Wednesday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says Sudanese government officials are behind some of the most heinous crimes committed during the Darfur conflict.

The court has indicted Sudan's minister of humanitarian affairs, Ahmed Harun, as well as Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader. Sudan has refused to turn them over.

On Wednesday, Sudan's ambassador to the U.N. Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem Mohamed called the prosecutor's report "fictitious and vicious."

Darfur has been mired in five years of conflict between rebels, the Sudanese government and government-backed militias. The United Nations says the conflict has displaced some 2.5 million people and killed up to 300,000 others. Sudan says only 10,000 have been killed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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