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EU Offers Support to African Peace Efforts in Darfur

A senior European official called for greater support of African Union peacekeeping efforts in Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region. From Paris, Lisa Bryant has more on the talks Wednesday, between African and Western officials in Brussels.

At a news conference in Brussels, the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the situation in Darfur can not remain as it is now. Speaking alongside African Union Commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, Solana said it was important to back the A.U.'s peacekeeping efforts in the Western Sudanese region.

"I think we need to give President Konare and the African Union all the support that they need," Solana said. "It is true that sometimes we promise things to the African Union and then we don't give what the promises are. We have to commit ourselves, within our capacities, of course."

Solana spoke toward the end of day-long meetings on Darfur in Brussels, gathering African Union and Sudanese leaders along with senior European, American and United Nations officials. He said it was also necessary to craft a road map for peace in the troubled Sudanese region. The three-year Darfur conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, and rendered millions more homeless.

Now, western nations are trying to convince the Sudanese government to agree to turning the A.U. peacekeeping effort in Darfur into a tougher mission by the United Nations. African Union foreign ministers meet Friday to decide whether to ask the U.N. to take over their mission.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who attended the Brussels meeting, also said he would push for a U.N. mission. But in Khartoum, Sudanese protested the possibility of a U.N. force.

Meanwhile, a new Human Rights Watch report accuses Sudan's ruling party of failing to undertake promised reforms that would help end alleged human rights abuses across Sudan.