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France-Africa Summit Participants Call for Immediate Solution in Guinea


French and African leaders ended a two-day summit in Cannes, Friday with a call for Sudan to facilitate deployment of U.N. peacekeepers. The participants also demanded a solution to the violence that has erupted in Guinea. Anita Elash reports for VOA from Paris.

French President Jacques Chirac called on Sudanese leaders to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur. The Sudanese government has refused to accept the peacekeepers, despite pressure from the international community.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said any international force would have to come under the control of African Union peacekeepers. The 7,000 AU troops in the region have been underequiped to quell fighting that has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives.

The 30 African leaders at the summit also adopted a resolution calling for an immediate political solution to the violence in Guinea, where President Lansana Conte has imposed martial law in a bid to end deadly protests against his government.

More than 100 people have been killed in the unrest. Mr. Chirac said that France is ready to evacuate foreigners living in Guinea, including 2,000 French citizens, 4,000 Lebanese and about 600 Americans.

The two-day meeting also gave Mr. Chirac a chance to say goodbye, and to underline his close relationship with African leaders during his 12 years in office.

French voters elect a new president in April. And although Mr. Chirac has not expressed his intentions, he is not expected to run for another term.

The French newspaper Le Figaro said that Mr. Chirac's departure will signal the end of France-Afrique, the rapport that has characterized relations between France and African countries.

Mr. Chirac has urged candidates in the presidential race to recognize Africa's importance and that aiding development in Africa contributes to worldwide stability.