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Sudan Appeals for Money, Technology at FAO Summit 


Sudan's agriculture minister has appealed for financial and technological assistance for his country to make better use of its agricultural resources. He told the ongoing food security summit in Rome that conflicts in his country have been created by others who have an interest in its oil reserves. For VOA, Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

The Sudanese agriculture minister says his country has the potential of vast agricultural resources that are underdeveloped due to lack of capital and technology. El Zubeir Bashir Taha said Sudan has 200 million hectares of arable land available and annual rainfall of 150 billion cubic meters.

"What we need from the world is to avail capital in terms of strategic partnership in which all parties can profit as well as technology that is capable of increasing productivity, improving the quality of the products and lowering the cost of production," he said.

El Zubeir also spoke of the bloody conflicts that have plagued his country, which has been the target of U.S. sanctions for its support of terrorism, human rights abuses and what has been called genocide in Darfur.

El Zubeir blamed the fighting in Darfur and along the north-south border on what he called outside interests. In Darfur, he said, there are major energy resources. And in Abyei, on the north-south border, he said, there are also plenty of oil reserves, capable of producing 500,000 barrels a day.

"We have this conspiracy of instigating wars by foreign powers, which have an agenda to lay their hands on also the hydrocarbon reserves of Abyei," said El Zubeir.

The Sudanese official's comments came one day after the United States suspended talks on normalizing relations with Sudan, saying neither the government nor regional leaders in the south are serious about ending a dispute over the long-running dispute over the Abyei region.

El Zubeir says the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005 says existing differences must be resolved in an amicable way. He does not believe the present situation could eventually lead to a division of Sudan.

"Personally I don't think there is going to be a division in Sudan. The people of Sudan are one people, one nation," said El Zubeir. "They may have different religions, they might have different sub-cultures but they are one people and they have been so for a long time."

He added that an election will take place in southern Sudan in 2009 so that the population living there will have a choice on whether to remain together or to secede from the North.