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Home >> World
UPDATED: 07:43, July 19, 2006
EU foreign policy chief says Sudanese government closer to change of position on UN mission in Darfur
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European Union (EU) foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana said Tuesday that the Sudanese government might be closer to a change of position on a UN mission in the Darfur region.

About 8,000 under-equipped African Union (AU) troops are now struggling to maintain peace in the Darfur region in western Sudan. Khartoum has been urged to approve the transition of the AU forces to a UN mission.

"Has the government of Sudan changed their position as taken by (Sudanese) President Bashir? No," Solana told a press conference.

"But it is no doubt today a lot of things have been clarified and we are closer probably to have a change of that position and get closer to the will of the majority of countries."

He said he, together with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, held talks with Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol for almost two hours on Monday and "a lot of things that were less clear before are clearer now."

The Sudanese side was not available for comment in Brussels.

A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that Akol was not traveling to Brussels to give a nod to a UN mission.

The leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss the security situation in the war-torn Darfur region and the implementation of a fragile peace agreement. Donors are also expected to pledge support for the AU mission in Darfur, both financially and in technology and logistics.

U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer, said her country is ready to give assurances to the Sudanese government on the nature of the UN mission.

"We try to give some assurances to President (Omar Hassan) Bashir -- through his foreign minister -- about what the intent of a UN mission would be," she told the same press conference.

She met separately with Akol in the morning.

"I think it's important that we also be transparent with the government of Sudan and explain what our intension is ... There is no hidden agenda here. There is no ulterior motive."

She said the goal of the UN mission is to support and protect civilian lives in the region and allow the displaced to return to normal life. "We are there and we want a capable force given the complexity of the challenges."

Jean-Marie Guehenno, a senior UN adviser, said the situation in Darfur is "very precarious, very fragile" and that the urgency of action can never be overstated.

He emphasized the need to bring on board all the movements that has not signed the Darfur peace agreement.

Source: Xinhua

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