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U.S. Vows More Sudan Aid As Donors Meet

4/8/2005 8:12pm

U.S. Vows More Sudan Aid As Donors Meet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hoping to spur Sudan's peace process, the United States is prepared to pledge more money at an international donor's conference on Sudan next week, a State Department official said Friday.

The Bush administration is worried that a January peace agreement designed to end a 21-year North-South war in Sudan could unravel without strong international backing.

Robert Zoellick, the State Department's second-ranking official, will meet Monday in Oslo with representatives of other donor countries. Funds pledged will be used mostly for reconstruction and development of the devastated southern region of Sudan.

``He will announce in Oslo a significant financial commitment from the United States,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Since 2003, the United States has provided $1 billion in assistance related to the North-South conflict and $600 million for Darfur. Most of the funds have been for humanitarian relief.

A proposal for sending 10,000 peacekeepers to monitor the agreement recently received U.N. Security Council approval.

Zoellick will also meet with Sudanese government and rebel leaders in Oslo.

He will also travel to Sudan to press officials in Khartoum for implementation of the January accord and to pursue peace in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. Zoellick will fly to Darfur to show U.S. concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy in the France-size region.

The North-South war claimed more than 2 million lives over two decades. In Darfur the toll since early 2003 is tens of thousands dead and more than 2 million uprooted from their homes.

Boucher said the two situations, although geographically separated, are linked.

``Progress on implementing the North-South accords, progress in getting in Sudan a government that unifies the nation, contributes to ending the violence in Darfur,'' he said.

The deal between the Khartoum government and southern-based rebels calls for an autonomous south with its own army, wealth sharing, religious freedom and a new constitution during a six-year interim period.

As for Darfur, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said the abuses there, mostly by government-backed Arab militias against black African farmers, qualify as genocide.

International Criminal Court prosecutors are preparing cases against 51 suspected war criminals.

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