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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:18, April 16, 2006
Sudan again rejects foreign interference in Darfur issue
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Sudanese President Omer al- Bashir reiterated refusal on Saturday of deploying international forces in its troubled western region of Darfur to take over the peacekeeping mission of the African Union (AU).

Al-Bashir made his remarks at a meeting with visiting UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi, Sudanese official sources told Xinhua.

"Sudan is persistent in its position refusing the handover of the AU mission in Darfur to the United Nations," the president told the UN official, according to the sources.

Al-Bashir said that the international peacekeeping troops should not be sent to Darfur without an approval of the Sudanese government.

The Sudanese president also stressed his commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict through negotiations currently underway between the government and Darfur rebel groups under the AU auspices in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

It was the latest statement by al-Bashir over Sudan's firm refusal of international forces in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the sources said that al-Bashir and Annabi reached an agreement during the meeting that a technical team would be sent by the UN to Khartoum to conduct consultations with the government on a possible "smooth and natural transfer of the African mission" after the mandate of the AU peacekeeping forces expires on Sept. 30.

The AU Peace and Security Council decided on March 10 to extend the AU forces' mandate in Darfur for another six months and announced its "agreement in principle" for the handover of the mission to the UN after that.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for speedy deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in Darfur, accusing the Khartoum government of failing to protect the people in the region.

She told reporters in Washington that the U.S. had been pushing hard in the UN Security Council to lay the groundwork for deployment of UN peacekeepers, including planning and troop recruitment.

The AU deployed some 7,800-strong forces in Darfur since 2004 to observe a shaky ceasefire agreement between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels, but the forces have been suffering from poor funding and inadequate resources.

Rebels took up arms in Sudan's arid Darfur region in February 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect.

Rounds of peace talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels have so far failed to hammer out a final settlement to the over three-year-long conflict.

Source: Xinhua

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