Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir has said he would accept the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to his country's war-torn western Darfur region.

Mr. Kiir serves as both a Sudanese vice president and head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement regional government.  The former southern rebel group based in Juba now shares power in Khartoum. 

Mr. Kiir said Friday at his party's meeting that the government in Khartoum is unable to protect Darfur's citizens from the atrocities of Arab militias.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and world leaders have been pressuring Sudan's government to accept an international force when African Union troops leave at the end of the month.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has repeatedly rejected international peacekeepers, comparing them to a foreign invasion.

More than three years of fighting in the region has displaced 2 million people and killed about 200,000 others.  A study published in the journal Science says the death toll in Darfur is often under-reported, because of the difficulties of getting accurate body counts.

Sudan's government recently began an offensive against Darfur rebel groups that have refused to sign a May peace agreement.

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