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AU Leaders Agree to Extend Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur


African Union leaders have agreed to a United Nations request to extend the mandate of their peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region until the end of this year.

The leaders, meeting in The Gambia, had hoped U.N. peacekeepers would take over at the end of September. But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has so far opposed such a force.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Mr. al-Bashir on the sidelines of the African Union summit. Mr. Annan expressed confidence U.N. troops will one day be deployed in Darfur.

The leaders also discussed Somalia, where they are considering deploying regional peacekeepers.

And the foreign minister of Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government, Abdullahi Sheikh Ismael, told VOA that the security situation in Somalia could get worse. However, he said he is confident a decision in favor of a troop deployment will come soon.

The summit agenda also includes health and migration issues, and the development of regional economic communities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.