The new U.S. envoy to Sudan has arrived in Khartoum to press the government there to accept U.N. peacekeepers in the troubled Darfur region.

Special envoy Andrew Natsios is visiting the Sudanese capital Friday at a time of increased diplomatic tension about the Darfur conflict.

U.S. officials are pressing for the United Nations to replace an African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur.  Critics say the AU force cannot adequately protect millions of civilians in Sudan's western region.
A U.S. embassy official in Khartoum says Natsios hopes to visit both southern and western Sudan and meet with senior Sudanese leaders.

The U.S. embassy said in a statement that Natsios' visit is aimed at illustrating U.S. support for both the Darfur Peace Agreement and a separate peace accord (Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or the CPA) in the south.

The CPA ended 21 years of civil war between Sudan's ruling National Congress Party and southern rebels.

U.S. officials say Sudan has not placed any limits on where Natsios may travel, which they say is a positive sign.

President Bush appointed Natsios special envoy last month.

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