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Donor countries meet in Oslo to discuss aid to Sudan

4/10/2005 5:51pm

By DOUG MELLGREN, Associated Press Writer

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and delegates from other world bodies and about 60 nations open a meeting in Oslo on Monday to discuss aid for Sudan as it struggles to recover from Africa's longest civil war.
A peace agreement signed in January brought a formal end to the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan, opening the way for the country to receive badly needed funding for reconstruction.

The two-day meeting in Oslo will bring together donor countries, international organizations and former enemies in the conflict who have joined a transitional team to create a joint government.

The delegate list includes two Sudanese vice presidents, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and former rebel leader John Garang of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Sudan hopes for pledges of A€6 billion (US$7.8 billion), said the Sudanese minister for international cooperation, Yusuf Suleiman Takana.

The conflict in southern Sudan was separate from the two years of bloodshed in the country's western Darfur region, where 180,000 people have died, according to U.N. estimates. In eastern Sudan, tribes and opposition activists have also clashed with government forces seeking greater rights and state assistance.

"There is broad international agreement that the donor country conference on Sudan must take place now, even though the situation in Darfur is still serious," said Norway's International Development Minister Hilde Frafjord Johnson.

"The international community must fulfill its obligations to Sudan in order to ensure the success of the peace agreement, the reconstruction of the country and humanitarian support for the people," she said.

A Norwegian statement said two World Bank-administered funds would be launched at the conference, one for the new Government of National Unity in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and one for the government of South Sudan.

The treaty signed by Sudan's government and southern rebels outlines power- and wealth-sharing rules. After six years, the deal says, the south will hold a referendum on whether to remain part of Africa's largest country.

The north-south war pitted Islamic-dominated Khartoum against rebels seeking greater autonomy and a greater share of the country's wealth for the Christian and animist south. The conflict is blamed for more than 2 million deaths, primarily from war-induced famine and disease.

Norway had an active role in the Sudan peace process, and was asked in April 2003 to host the international donors conference.


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