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UN Official Calls for More Support for African Peacekeepers in Darfur

The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations says the world body should provide more support to African Union peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region.

U.N. Undersecretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno says the African Union mission in Darfur must be strengthened in preparation for the eventual deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

Guehenno made the comments Tuesday after briefing the U.N. Security Council on his recent visit to Darfur. He recommended a substantial U.N. force be deployed in Darfur by January of next year, to help end the suffering of its two-and-a-half million refugees.

The U.N. official acknowledged that the Sudanese government has yet to agree to such a deployment. But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he will discuss the issue with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir later this week.

Mr. Annan will meet with Mr. Bashir at an African Union summit in Banjul, Gambia, on July 1. The U.N. chief says he believes there is a chance the Sudanese leader will drop his resistance to a U.N. force in Darfur.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.