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US Envoy Hopeful More Peacekeepers on Way to Darfur


The U.S. envoy to Sudan says international peacekeepers in Darfur may soon receive substantial reinforcements.

Richard Williamson told reporters in Khartoum Tuesday that he had seen "specific plans" by U.N. officials in New York to increase the number of troops in the troubled Darfur region.

He said the pace of troop deployments has not been acceptable. But he said there is reason to be encouraged and hopeful that the slow pace will be reversed.

The joint United Nations-African Union force in Darfur has about 10,000 soldiers and police - less than half of the number originally envisioned.

Critics have accused Sudan of slowing down deployment of the force.

Williamson spoke after holding talks with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor.

Williamson also told reporters there are signs of possible progress in Darfur's long peace process. He said there was a "serious reassessment" on how to energize a peace process in Darfur. He did not give specifics.

Darfur has been torn apart by a five-year conflict between local rebel groups, the government and government-backed militias.

International experts say the conflict has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million. Sudan says Western governments and the media have exaggerated the conflict.

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

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