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US Deputy Secretary of State to visit Darfur

4/6/2005 7:42am

WASHINGTON, April 5 (AFP) -- US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will travel next week to Sudan and its violence-wracked region of Darfur, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, gave no details of the trip scheduled by Zoellick, who has just wound up a whirlwind tour of 14 European capitals.

Another official, who also asked not to be named, confirmed Zoellick would fly to Sudan from Norway, where a conference on reconstruction of the African country will be held Monday and Tuesday.

Zoellick's visit will come on the heels of a flurry of moves at the United Nations to restore order in Sudan, including in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have died in the last two years.

The UN Security Council last month approved 10,000 UN peacekeepers for Sudan to help shore up an accord that ended its north-south civil war. It also voted for sanctions against those committing atrocities in Darfur.

Last week, the council ended weeks of diplomatic haggling by voting to refer prosecutions of Darfur war criminals to the United Nations' International Criminal Court (ICC).

Washington has fiercely opposed the ICC since it was set up in 2002 but agreed to a compromise so that the ICC will prosecute crimes stemming from the conflict pitting Darfur rebels against government-backed militias.

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