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Africa holds key to solving conflicts: Sudanese FM

7/5/2005 2:02pm

SIRTE, Libya, July 4, 2005 (Xinhua) -- Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said here on Monday that Africa holds the key to solving conflicts on the continent. Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of the fifth African Union (AU) summit, Ismail said Africa has the ability to solve conflicts and achieve political stability.

As to conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, Ismail voiced confidence of hammering out a final peace settlement as the ongoing talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in the Nigerian capital Abuja were progressing.

Darfur rebels took up arms against the government in February 2003, accusing it of neglect. Many people have been killed in over two years of violence and more displaced.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) formally launched investigation into alleged war crimes in Darfur in early June, while the Sudanese government refused to let war crime suspects stand trial outside the country.

Ismail asserted that the Darfur conflict should be resolved within the AU framework.

The AU has maintained about 2,300 troops in Darfur and is scheduled to expand its peacekeeping forces to 7,700 troops by September. It also sponsored rounds of peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups.

As to a debt relief by Group of Eight industrial countries which benefited 14 African countries, Ismail said it was not enough while calling for complete write-off of all debts owed by African countries.

He said debt relief should not replace aid that rich countries have pledged to promote the development of African countries.

Ismail said Sudan supports the AU's consensus on the continent's position over the UN reform and Africa's aspiration for two permanent seats of an expanded UN Security Council.

Heads of state and government as well as their representatives from 53 AU members are gathering in the Libyan port city of Sirte for a two-day summit, which will focus on regional conflicts, the continent's development and debt relief as well as Libya's proposal on the AU's development.

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