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UN Pledges Support for Sudan Peace


The U.N. Security Council is urging Sudan and a southern rebel group to conclude a peace deal by the end of this year, while offering the prospect of a major infusion of aid.

The resolution on Sudan was passed unanimously by the 15-member Security Council.

It calls for lasting peace and security in Africa's biggest country, which has been torn by violent internal conflicts for most of the time since it's independence in 1956.

Shortly before the resolution was approved, the members of the Council witnessed the signing of a pledge between Sudan and the main southern rebel group to conclude a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of this year.

The Council's current president, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth, told Sudan's chief negotiator, Vice President Ali Osman Taha, and rebel leader John Garang, that they must deliver peace after years of unfulfilled promises.

"It is up to you to prove the naysayers and skeptics wrong, and to move your country forward toward joining the family of nations," he said. "As this meeting attests, the attention of the world is upon you. The United Nations, and all the nations of the world, expect - demand - that you deliver on your word."

Mr. Danforth said world attention is also on the western Darfur region, where nearly two years of fighting between Arabs and blacks have created what U.N. officials call the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"As political institutions are established nationwide, as security is established across the country, the process of bringing justice to the oppressed people of Darfur must continue. I want to be very clear," he said. "The violence and atrocities being perpetrated in Darfur must end now. You have heard this message clearly from the Security Council - heed it. I cannot emphasize this point more strongly."

Human rights activists and international relief agency officials say they are disappointed the Security Council did not threaten Sudan with sanctions over the conflict in Darfur, where Arab militias have had Sudanese military support in their war with black rebel groups.

Brendan Cox is a spokesman for the Oxfam International agency.

"Oxfam at the moment cannot get to 200,000 people because of the renewed violence and this new U.N. Security Council resolution will do nothing in the short term to save those people," he said.

U.S. officials say four of the Council members - Algeria, China, Pakistan and Russia - have opposed economic sanctions against Sudan because they have significant business dealings with Khartoum.

Several Security Council ambassadors expressed hope that a final peace deal in Sudan's north-south conflict will move the government and the Darfur rebels to strike a similar agreement.