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EU Pledges Security Cooperation with African Union

The European Union has pledged security support for the Africa Union in dealing with conflicts that still plague the continent, and hopes that a North-South peace accord in Sudan will also help resolve bloody clashes in the western region of Darfur.

Representing the presidency of the African Union, Nigerian Foreign Minister Olu Adeniji made an appeal for EU support, during a press conference after talks in Luxembourg. "We must take initiative in resolving conflicts that have plagued our continent. We are also conscious of the fact that we would need the collaboration of the international community in being able to address these conflicts. And, so, I appeal to the European Union to, from time-to-time, give us the kind of assistance we require," he said.

The African Union has about 2,200 peacekeepers in Sudan, where a bloody conflict in the western Darfur region has claimed tens of thousands of lives, and forced more than two million people to flee their homes. The dispute pits government-backed nomadic Arab militia against local rebels, in a struggle over power and scarce resources.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana says Africa can rely on European help in dealing with security issues. "They can be sure that, whenever we can, within our capabilities, which are not infinite, we will always be helping them, as we have done it now in Sudan," he said. "We may do it in Somalia, in all the difficult possible theaters that may come up in the continent of Africa, that they can count [on], and will always have, the help, the advice, the cooperation, from the security point of view also."

In January, Sudan agreed to a U.N.-mediated peace accord to end the 21-year war between the Arab North and the mainly Christian and animist South. More than two-million people were killed and four million displaced by that conflict. But analysts say aid money to rebuild the country may not flow unless violence in Darfur also ends. Mr. Solana said he hopes peace can also spread to Darfur.

"What could be important is that the North-South agreement will have an impact on the East-West conflict. I hope very much that will be the case," he said. "The North -South agreement has been reached, there's a peacekeeping force - in that case it is [from the] U.N. And, let us hope that that also helps on North-South (means East-West). I think now pressure should be put on both sides, on the rebels. And also on the government of Sudan."

The United Nations has also given the International Criminal Court a sealed list of 51 people suspected of war crimes in Darfur, where the United States says genocide has taken place.