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Sudan optimistic about funds to reconstruct south

4/9/2005 6:04pm

KHARTOUM, April 9 (AFP) -- The Sudanese government said it was optimistic that enough funds would be pledged at a donors conference beginning Monday for the reconstruction of the south of the country ravaged by 21-years of civil war.

Foreign Ninister Mustafa Osmane Ismail told journalists that he predicted the two-day international donors conference opening in Oslo on Monday would be a success "despite the attempts by certain circles to exploit the problem of Darfur to have an adverse effect on the conference."

The call for reconstruction funds comes after Sudan's government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the country's south signed a peace accord in January ending two decades of strife.

Khartoum and the SPLM hope the same peace model can be used to bring peace to Darfur, where some 300,000 people have died and nearly 2.4 million displaced in more than two years of conflict with ethnic minority rebels.

The US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick was expected Monday to announce 1.8 billion dollars (1.39 billion euros) in aid to the Sudan at the conference before visiting Sudan.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the donors conference would also focus on curbing violence in a separate conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

"Through his participation in the Donors Conference and visit to Sudan, the Deputy Secretary will emphasize the need for the Sudanese parties to move ahead with implementation of the peace accord, as well as to end violence in Darfur," Boucher said.

Boucher added that January's North-South peace agreement also "provides a unique opportunity to end the violence in Darfur; "we urge the Sudanese parties to grasp this opportunity to achieve peace and democracy in a unified country."

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