UN, US discuss no-fly zone for Darfur - US and other powers should provide air cover for peacekeepers, Annan says
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the US that UN members should consider providing close air support in possible combat situations for several thousand AU troops in Darfur.
The UN is also requesting that governments with advanced militaries supply the African troops with sophisticated logistical and intelligence support and aircraft for ferrying troops around the province.
The Bush administration has sent four military planners to New York to help the UN plan for the transition. US officials say the military will likely airlift troops to Darfur and provide the mission with logistical and intelligence support.
One US military official involved with Africa said the Pentagon is considering ways to assist in Darfur but that the African Union would have to remain in the lead for now. "No final decisions have been made," the official said.
The official said the administration and the UN are in discussions about enforcing a UN ban on flights by the Sudanese aircraft that have been used in attacks on villages and rebels in Darfur. "What's been talked about is imposing a no-fly zone," he said.
Bolton, meanwhile, has distributed a paper to council members with elements for a Security Council resolution authorizing a new UN mission. The paper calls for the protection of civilians under threat and for the enforcement of a ban on offensive air flights by the Sudanese air force over Darfur. It would also provide authority to carry out preemptive strikes against groups that pose a threat.
Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson in Washington contributed to this report.