Sudan has agreed to allow a small number of U.N. advisors into Darfur, in support of a struggling African peacekeeping force in the troubled region.

In a joint statement Wednesday, U.N. and African Union officials said the group of around 100 military and police advisors will arrive in Darfur in the next few weeks. 

The statement said the officers will wear their national uniforms with blue U.N. berets and an African Union armband.  It also said the U.N. will provide $21 million in equipment to AU peacekeepers.

Sudan's news agency affirmed the country was allowing the small deployment.  But it remained unclear whether Khartoum will allow any large-scale U.N. force in Darfur.

In a letter to the United Nations this week, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said he endorses a plan for a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force.  But Mr. Bashir sidestepped questions about the size and command of the joint force.

Sudan has rejected a U.N. resolution that authorized the deployment of some 20,000 peacekeepers to Darfur.

Khartoum finally agreed to a so-called "hybrid" U.N.-AU force last month.  That plan calls for a three-stage operation beginning with the small deployment announced Wednesday.

Rebel groups in Darfur began fighting the Sudanese government nearly four years ago.  The increasingly chaotic violence has killed an estimated 200,000 people, and displaced more than two million others from their homes.

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