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Sudan Says It Can Meet UN Deadline in Darfur - 2004-08-09

With Sudan facing a United Nations deadline in less than a month to show progress in the troubled Darfur region, the country's foreign minister Monday told reporters in Cairo he believes Khartoum can satisfy the U.N. demands.

The United Nations is demanding that Sudan show progress in disarming Arab militias in Darfur, where looting, burning and killing have created what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

With the threat of possible U.N. sanctions just weeks away, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said Monday he believes Khartoum can meet the deadline.

Speaking with reporters in Cairo, the foreign minister said his government was able to negotiate an end to the country's two decades-old civil war in the south, and he believes it will do the same in Darfur.

"The problem in the south is the major problem in the Sudan," he said. "So, we settled it. Although, others failed to do it. Now, we move to Darfur. We are not the initiator of the problems in Darfur. We are not the party, which started the fighting. But, still, we feel that we can do it. We are doing our best. We succeeded in certain areas. We think we will succeed in the other areas."

The Sudanese government has been accused by the country's rebels of providing arms to Arab militias to carry out a campaign of ethnic cleansing, something the government denies. The government also disputes a U.N. estimate that 50,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur. More that one million others had been forced out of their homes.

Sudan and the United Nations agreed to a deal last week to disarm the militias, establish safe areas for Sudanese citizens living in the area and to address humanitarian needs.

The U.N. gave the Sudanese government one month to show progress or face possible sanctions.