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Italy to deploy 220 troops to S. Sudan as part of UN peace monitoring

4/8/2005 7:53pm

ROME, April 8 (AFX) -- The government said it will send 220 troops to Sudan, as part of a United Nations mission to monitor the peace agreement reached in January between the government in Khartoum and militants in the south of the country.

Italy has decided to participate in "a contingent of about 220 persons," according to a government statement.

The decision was taken by the Council of Italian ministers after a report by Defense Minister Antonio Martino on the UN Security Council resolution on March 24, calling for sending an international mission to maintain the peace.

The ministers took into account the UN mandate and the humanitarian aspects of the mission, the statement said.

The UN force in the Sudan, which will have an initial mandate of six months, will consist of a maximum of 10,000 soldiers and 715 civil police officers.

The principle reason for the mission is to support the peace accord reached in January between the Sudanese government and the rebel group in southern Sudan, known as the Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

The war in southern Sudan has claimed at least 1.5 mln lives and displaced another 4 mln.

The peace accord that ended it does not cover the current conflict in the country's troubled western Darfur region.

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