SUDAN WATCH: Sudan: African Union President visits NATO HQ Brussels

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sudan: African Union President visits NATO HQ Brussels

Further to Sudan Watch post April 29, 2005 entitled NATO's role in Darfur - AU commission chairman will visit NATO headquarters May 17 here is a copy of NATO's report via ReliefWeb on what happened yesterday, the first visit by a senior official of the African Union to NATO:

Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, visited NATO HQ on 17 May to discuss possible Alliance support for the African Union's peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

He met for talks with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and addressed the North Atlantic Council, the Alliance's principal decision-making body.

African Union in the lead

Mr. Konare outlined the current situation in Darfur, the African Union's plans for strengthening its peacekeeping operation in the region and the support the Union would require.

The visit was a follow-up to a letter sent by Mr. Konare to the Secretary General on 26 April, suggesting discussions on the possibility of NATO providing logistical support to the African Union's peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

NATO has agreed to open exploratory talks, and the NATO Council will now discuss Mr. Konare's request, to see what support the Alliance could provide. NATO will also engage in close co-ordination with the European Union and the United Nations.

The support Mr. Konare requested included transport, training and communications.

"It is the African Union which is leading this mission," the Secretary General told reporters at a joint press point with President Konare, "It is the African Union which asked for our support."

The Secretary General was also invited by President Konare to attend talks on international support for the African Union's operation in Darfur in Addis Ababa on 26 May.

This was the first visit by a senior official of the African Union to NATO.
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Sudan: NATO to explore Darfur options

For future reference, here is a copy of a further NATO report via ReliefWeb May 18, 2005:

On 18 May the North Atlantic Council agreed to task the Alliance's military authorities to provide, as a matter of urgency, advice on possible assistance NATO could offer to the African Union in Darfur.

This advice will be prepared in full consultation and transparency with the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations.

The decision by the North Atlantic Council follows a request on 26 April by the African Union for consideration by NATO of the possibility of providing logistical support to the African Union's peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

On 17 May, Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, visited NATO, providing details on the kinds of assistance that the African Union would require.

The Secretary General is due to attend talks on international support for the African Union's operation in Darfur in Addis Ababa on 26 May.
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Briefing on current issues by the NATO Spokesman

NATO Spokesman James Appathurai looks back on the key events of April. He talks about a request by the African Union for logistic support from NATO for the Union's peacekeeping operation in the Darfur region of Sudan. He then goes to preview an important Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council security forum, due to be held in May in Sweden.

Click here to download NATO Speech: Monthly briefing by the NATO Spokesman 29 April 2005 - Windows Media Player and view "Support for African Union in Darfur" or transcript. Here is an excerpt:

"Talks are beginning between NATO and the African Union but also between NATO and the European Union and the United Nations to ensure that we know what the requirements of the African Union are, what is already being provided, as I say, by the European Union, by the United Nations and on a bilateral basis, and where NATO can add value because that is absolutely the important thing here -- NATO should add value to what is already being provided to the requirements of the African Union.

So this work is going forward, the [UN] Secretary General is of course in direct contact with his counterparts in the other international organisations and the staffs at the working level are already in contact as well. We will see where this goes forward, an African Union delegation is expected in Brussels later in May and that will be an important time for discussions on how and whether- whether and how NATO can provide support to the AU in a pragmatic way in support of and in partnership with the other relevant organisations and countries that are providing support."

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