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UN Optimistic Sudan Will Allow Advisors

The United Nations says it is optimistic Sudan will accept a proposal to send U.N. military advisors and material support to Darfur, to aid the struggling African Union mission. Sudan's acceptance of U.N. help would be a compromise, after it refused to allow the world body to replace the AU in Darfur.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and African Union Peace & Security Council Chairman Alpha Omer Konare, have appealed to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to accept the U.N. offer of support in Darfur.

Mr. Annan and Konare sent a joint letter to the Sudanese leader, last week, detailing the proposed package, which includes sending military advisors and logistical and communications support to Darfur.

U.N. Spokesman Bahaa Elkoussy told VOA in Khartoum that Sudan has not yet approved the offer.

But Elkoussy says he is optimistic Sudan will allow the U.N. to support the AU mission.

"We all know that the Sudanese government is very much in favor of this because we all know that they want the African Union to stay and they are opposed to a transition to U.N. The only logical and rational option is to keep the African Union and to support it," he said. " I think they are just taking their time to study and consider all the details and specifics before they come back with an answer."

According to Associated Press reports, the top Sudanese government official on Darfur, Mazjoub Al Khalifa, said Tuesday Sudan was likely to accept U.N. support.

The move would be a badly needed compromise.

Sudan has staunchly refused entry of U.N. peacekeepers into embattled Darfur, likening a U.N. mission to colonization.

The African Union Peace and Security Council voted last week to remain in Darfur until the end of December, despite struggling with funding problems and a weak mandate.

The United Nations says thousands of civilians have been displaced by renewed fighting in northern Darfur, in recent weeks.

Sudan says it has begun a military campaign against rebels in the region who refuse to accept a peace deal.

But outside observers have charged that Sudan has been bombing civilian villages.

The three-year Darfur conflict has raged since rebels attacked government positions complaining that remote Darfur remained undeveloped because of neglect by the central government.

Sudan is believed to have been arming militias, known as janjaweed, to crush the rebellion, using a savage campaign of rape and murder - charges it denies.