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Blair Calls for Tougher Stance on Sudan


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the international community must take a harder stance against the Sudanese government for its refusal to allow U.N. peacekeepers into the troubled Darfur region.

In an interview Thursday with Sky News television, the British prime minister said the world should be telling Sudan to expect "progressively harder" treatment if it does not comply with the United Nations.

Mr. Blair said he does not think Britain is able to send troops to Darfur, but he said the international community should.

The prime minister's comments come one day after the United States announced it is preparing sanctions against Sudan.

Earlier this week, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sent a letter to the U.N. that appeared to renege on a promise to allow an upgraded peacekeeping force into Darfur.

The U.S. envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios says sanctions could include travel bans and asset freezes on key Sudanese officials, as well as curbs on dollar transactions by Sudanese companies.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Wednesday that Washington may also propose a new U.N. Security Council resolution against Sudan.

An African Union force numbering 7,000 troops has not been able to stop the violence in Darfur. Four years of fighting in the region has killed an estimate 200,000 people, and displaced two million others.

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