Accessibility links

Breaking News

French Foreign Minister Urges Sudan to Continue Talks with Rebels - 2004-07-21


French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier Wednesday called for the Sudanese government and rebel forces from the Darfur region to resume peace talks, which collapsed during the weekend. Mr. Barnier is to visit Sudan's Darfur region next week.

Mr. Barnier appealed to Khartoum and the rebel groups operating in Darfur to return to the negotiating table. He appeared at a joint news conference with Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail in Paris.

Mr. Barnier calls for all parties to respect a cease-fire in Darfur and to participate in African Union-mediated peace negotiations. He says finding ways to solve the political and humanitarian crises in Sudan's Darfur region would be a top priority during his trip next week to Sudan.

Foreign Minister Ismail said the Sudanese government is committed to guaranteeing the security and humanitarian assistance to those who needed it in Darfur.

He said Khartoum is determined to find a political solution to the crisis.

Mr. Barnier's scheduled trip to Darfur follows high profile visits to the crisis-torn area by Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Violence committed by government-sponsored militia, largely against black Africans, in the Darfur region has sparked international concern and led to what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis in recent months.

A French official said that Mr. Barnier would take into account all points of view during his trip to Sudan and other African countries, and would draw his own conclusions. France is also lending a jumbo jet to help deliver humanitarian aid to the region.

The United States and the European Union have committed nearly $400 million in political and humanitarian assistance to Darfur in recent months, but aid has been slow to reach the region and the coming rains risk aggravating the problems.