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Annan hails Nato, EU assistance to Darfur

6/11/2005 11:02am

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 (AFP) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday welcomed news that NATO and the European Union will help African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur, his spokesman said Friday.
Annan "believes this assistance will help to ensure the timely expansion of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), looks forward to additional practical support, and encourages donor countries to make good" on pledges made in a May 26 conference in Addis Ababa, the spokesman said.

NATO defense ministers on Thursday ratified an accord to give logistical support and training to African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. About 5,000 AU soldiers will be airlifted to Sudan by NATO and the EU.

The Darfur region is in the clutches of a civil war pitting two rebel groups against Sudan's army backed by Arab militias since February 2003.

Annan welcomed also "the long awaited resumption of the negotiations in Abuja between the government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement on a political settlement of the Darfur conflict."

"He urges all parties to make full use of these talks, under the able mediation of AU Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim, so that an early political settlement to the conflict may be concluded."

Annan "emphasizes that lasting security for the people of Darfur can only be based on a negotiated resolution of the conflict," the spokesman said in a statement.

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