New York- UN (PANA) -- Ahead of Monday's crucial meeting between the African Union (AU) and United Nations in New York, the Sudanese government has accepted the UN heavy support package for AU peacekeepers in war-ravished Darfur.
Under the package, UN attack helicopters and armoured personnel carriers will now be deployed to help AU forces bring peace and security to Sudan's western region.
"I am pleased, upon instructions from my government, to convey to Your Excellency Sudan's approval of the helicopters component," a letter dated 16 April 2007 and signed by Sudan's envoy to UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, stated.
The letter, a copy which was availed to the Pan African News Agency (PANA) in New York Monday, also said: "It is the sincere hope of the Sudan that implementation of the Heavy Support Package will proceed expeditiously".
The letter was addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and copied to the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Emyr Parry of Britain.
UN spokesperson Michele Montas confirmed to PANA that the secretary- general, AU Commission Chairman Alpha Konare and Security Council's President have received the Sudanese letter.
The UN had already provided financial backing to the AU mission under phase one, while the second phase, which covered logistical and light military support, had also been extended to the African peacekeepers.
However, phase three, which will enable the UN to move to its planned AU-UN hybrid force entails the deployment of heavy military equipment, 20,000 troops, police and civilian personnel was the bone of contention by Khartoum.
The UN deployment was to bolster the 7,000 AU forces who have been unable to stem the killings in Darfur and ward off attacks on AU peacekeepers in recent times.
The four-year-old Darfur conflict between rebels and pro-government Arab militia has claimed more than 200,000 people and displaced at least 2.
4 million people.