SUDAN WATCH: Sudan rejects US offer to airlift AU mission to Darfur

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sudan rejects US offer to airlift AU mission to Darfur

According to China News, the US Embassy in Khartoum has recently delivered an offer to Sudan's government, asking for permission to use two US aircraft to send the AU monitoring mission to Darfur.

The US Air Force had announced earlier that it would begin airlifting AU troops to Darfur this week.

Yesterday (Monday) Khartoum refused to allow AU soldiers to fly in to Sudan on U.S. planes .

The soldiers are due to monitor a ceasefire between government troops and rebel forces in Darfur.

"This is not a bilateral issue and the matter should be handled by the African Union in accordance with clear-cut guarantees and a certain time period," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters. He said the Sudanese government had informed the AU of its position but had "not yet had any response".

The more than 3,000-strong AU force is to be made up of troops from the Gambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Tanzania, the foreign minister said. The first contingent had been expected to arrive Monday.

Ismail said he would brief the Sudanese parliament on Tuesday on the expansion of the mandate and the length of the AU mission in western Sudan.

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Photo (above) Troops from the U.S. Air Force's 86th Airlift Wing unload boxes of weapons upon arrival in the Rwandan capital Kigali October 23, 2004, aboard three U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes. The planes will transport Rwandan forces and equipment to Darfur over the next two weeks to assist an African Union peacekeeping effort in western Sudan. It is the first U.S. military deployment in the Darfur conflict.

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