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UN: Europe Slow to Contribute to Darfur Peacekeeping Force

The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations says European nations have been slow to offer support for a joint U.N.-African Union police force for Sudan's Darfur region.

In an interview published Wednesday in the French newspaper Le Monde, Jean-Marie Guehenno says the United Nations will have trouble meeting targets for an estimated 6,000-strong police force.

He says the Nordic countries are ready to commit, but he says he still does not have concrete proposals from other nations for high-level engineering units to dig wells or provide transportation systems.

Guehenno says he is most worried that the joint force will not have enough trucks, helicopters and transport equipment to police the region.

The U.N. Security Council authorized in July the deployment of 26,000 U.N. and African Union peacekeepers to Darfur. Sudan has said it will accept the force and will cooperate with its implementation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Sudan's government earlier this week to commit to a cease-fire in Darfur ahead of political negotiations next month.

Mr. Ban said Tuesday Sudan's government must redouble its efforts to maintain a positive momentum toward peace. He urged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to manage the path toward peace with utmost care, saying the process is very fragile.

The secretary-general also said he is very concerned at the recurrence of violence in Darfur.

Peace talks between Sudan's government and Darfur rebels are set to take place in Libya beginning October 27. One Darfur rebel group, the Sudanese Liberation Army, has already said it will boycott the talks.

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