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UN Security Council to Meet in Kenya for Talks on Sudan

The United Nations Security Council is traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, for a special two-day meeting on the conflicts in Sudan.

The Security Council meetings on Thursday and Friday are intended to put pressure on Sudan and a southern rebel group to conclude a peace agreement on ending a 21-year war that has claimed about 1.5 million lives.

Security Council diplomats say they hope a settlement between the Islamist government of Khartoum and the Christian-led southern rebels could speed up resolution of another conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, between Arab nomads and black farmers.

The Darfur fighting has killed some 70,000 people, with another 1.5 million forced from their homes. The United States says genocide against Darfurian blacks is being carried out by the government-backed Arab militia, called the Janjaweed.

The Security Council has been divided on how tough it should be with the Sudanese government over Darfur, but an Africa expert with the American-based group Human Rights Watch, Michael Clough, says Sudan will only respond to strong international pressure.

"We think the U.N. Security Council's action now is very welcome, but we think it important also to remember that the U.N. Security Council responded to this crisis, unfortunately too late, to save the people who have already been victimized," he said. "We are hoping that at this meeting the U.N. Security Council will make very clear it's intention to act more strongly and directly against the government of Sudan, in the event that the government continues to fail to disarm the Janjaweed, and take steps to provide security."

U.S. United Nations Ambassador John Danforth will preside over of the Security Council meetings in Nairobi. As President Bush's former special envoy on Sudan, Mr. Danforth helped craft agreements between Sudan and the southern rebels on power-sharing, peace and security.

The Security Council will consider a resolution offering economic incentives, in exchange for a final peace deal in Sudan's north-south conflict. The council expects to hear from the chief negotiators, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and John Garang, chief of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is also expected to attend.