UN, AU, Sudanese govt for major talks on Darfur Monday

New York- UN (PANA) -- The UN, African Union (AU) and the Sudanese government will meet on 11-12 June in Khartoum on the deployment of 23,000 peacekeepers to war-torn Darfur region, UN deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe said here Friday.
The talks would "iron-out" the final agreement and logistics for the UN-AU hybrid operations, which was approved by the UN Security Council last month, Okabe told PANA in New York.
She said that the meeting aimed at resolving the four-year-old conflict, as well as addressing the humanitarian crisis in the region.
She also expressed the determination of the UN and AU to "move quickly with the deployment of the long-awaited peacekeeping force to the region, once Khartoum gives its final nod".
According to her: "A briefing to the Security Council on the outcome of the two-day meeting is expected to take place before the Security Council mission heads to the region at the end of next week.
The UN and AU reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday on a 23,000- strong force by glossing over a dispute on who will control the operation involving the UN and AU since Sudan is opposing to a UN- controlled force.
But concerns abound that Khartoum will drag its feet on the deployment, while the U.
and Britain are both pressing the UN for more sanctions on Sudan.
Last month, the UN and AU appointed Nigeria's Gen.
Martin Agwai as the Force Commander of the joint Darfur force.
The joint force has two troop options: one with 19,500, comprising 18 infantry battalions and another comprising 17,605 and having 15 infantry battalions.
There will also be a police force of 3,772 officers and 2,500 policemen to establish a local police force in refugee camps, as well as some civilian support personnel.
Already, Ban had handed a copy of the joint report to Sudan's UN ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, for approval by his government.
The new mission will be the final phase in a three-step process in which the UN is supporting and enhancing the existing but under- resourced AU peacekeeping mission to Darfur, known as African Mission in Sudan (AMIS).
Most of the troops in the hybrid force will be African.
The force will also monitor compliance with the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in May 2006 with the government and one rebel group, that has not been implemented.
The troops will also monitor the border between Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic, where refugees have fled.
As part of the first phase, known as the "light support package", the UN handed over medical support items ranging from a fully equipped ambulance to pharmaceutical products such as drugs and vaccines to AMIS.
The UN and AU have stepped up their peacemaking efforts over the past year amid mounting international concern at the situation inside Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million others forced to flee their homes since 2003.

08 june 2007 11:06:00

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