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Sudan Confirms Deployment of UN Peacekeeping Force

A U.N. Security Council delegation visiting Sudan says the Khartoum government has agreed to the deployment of a United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur.

South African ambassador Dumisani Kumalo made the announcement Sunday following hours of talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.

He says Mr. Bashir has agreed to allow the speedy deployment of around 20,000 U.N. and African Union peacekeepers.

Khartoum had previously rejected attempts to send U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur, but finally agreed last week after international pressure and threats of tougher U.N. sanctions.

The African Union already has about seven thousand peacekeepers in Darfur, but they have not been able to stop the region's violence.

Four years of fighting in Darfur has left more than 200,000 people dead and more than two million displaced. Government-backed Arab militias are accused of atrocities in battling Darfur rebels.

Human rights groups accuse the government-backed militias of murder and rape. Some Western nations, including the United States, have called the situation "genocide."

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