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UN Security Council Delegation Meets With Sudan Over Darfur


A delegation from the United Nations Security Council is in Sudan Tuesday to persuade the Sudanese government to accept U.N. peacekeepers into the volatile Darfur region.

The group, led by Britain's ambassador to the U.N., Emyr Jones Parry, says the United Nations wants to work side-by-side with the Sudanese government to increase security in Darfur, not to usurp the government's powers.

In the past, Sudan has resisted suggestions that U.N. peacekeepers take over from about 7,000 African Union troops currently stationed in the volatile area, arguing that such a move would comprise Sudan's sovereignty and be tantamount to an "invasion."

The government has argued that it would prefer to see more support given to the current African Union mission rather than bringing in U.N. troops.

Lately, the government has been more open to the idea of U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. An advisor to the information minister, Rabie Abdul Atti, describes to VOA his government's vision of what such a force would look like.

"If the U.N. peacekeeping force will play a humanitarian [role] and assist the government and assist the armed forces to implement the Darfur peace agreement, if this U.N. peacekeeping forces play a role of facilitation in respect of humanitarian issues, I think there will not be any problem with the Sudan government or the Sudan people and the U.N. forces," he said.

Some U.N. Security Council members say the Sudanese government has failed to protect its own people during the conflict, which has killed an estimated 180,000 people and left about two million homeless.

Advisor Atti rejects such an assessment.

"I think the Sudan government has done a lot to protect civilians in Darfur," said Mr. Atti. "[The] Sudan government is sending a lot of police forces to protect civilians and also to protect all people living in camps."

The Darfur conflict began three years ago when rebels took up arms to protest what they said was economic and political marginalization of their area by the Khartoum government.

The fighting is between two main rebel groups, the Sudanese army, and an Arab militia known as "janjaweed" said to be backed by the Sudanese government.

The push to bring U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur follows a peace agreement that the Sudanese government and one main rebel group signed May 5.

The United States calls the Darfur conflict "genocide" and is one of the countries pushing for U.N. peacekeepers in the area.