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UN Chief Urges Quick Action on Darfur


United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a quick implementation of the Darfur peace agreement, and has appealed to the two rebel parties who did not sign the agreement to do so.

Mr. Annan said he would ask the Sudanese government to allow U.N. assessment teams into Darfur and to agree in principle to U.N. peacekeeping forces in the region.

The Darfur peace agreement was signed Friday in Abuja Nigeria, and calls for government-backed militias to disarm and for rebel fighters to be integrated into Sudan's armed forces.

Government representatives and the main faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army signed the deal, but two smaller rebel factions rejected the agreement.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who helped lead negotiations warned that rebels who stay out of the peace process run the risk of being shunned as renegades and outlaws.

In his remarks, Mr. Annan appealed to the world community to step up financial support for U.N. operations in Darfur. He said the world agency has received only 20 percent of the funding it needs to do its work in Darfur.

Fighting has raged in Sudan's western Darfur region since 2003, leaving an estimated 180,000 people dead and millions displaced. The conflict has involved rebel groups, government forces and Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militias.

The United States has accused Sudan of a campaign of genocide against people living in the western Darfur region.