EU welcomes tentative breakthrough on Darfur: Khartoum agrees to AMIS operating under UN umbrella
Speaking at an international conference on Darfur in Brussels, van Ardenne said Khartoum had now bowed to international pressure, but only on condition that AU forces would form part of the UN mission. "[The Sudan government] will not accept a new force. They will only accept the same force under the umbrella of the UN. And now we've understood more clearly what was hampering them before. ... AU troops will remain on the ground, they will be strengthened, more equipped and will operate under the UN umbrella."
Ms Van Ardenne said she was hopeful that the new mission would be ready by the end of the year and said the Netherlands would help train AU troops for deployment under the UN.
The Netherlands also announced it would give an extra 20 million euros to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) so that it could continue operations until the end of the year. The EU has pledged 115 million euros.
However, the sum still falls short of the amount needed to keep AU operations going. The force says its needs over 30 million euros a month and says its coffers will run out by the end of August.
The US, for its part, has refused to give more cash to the AU, in the hope that its financial collapse would hasten the deployment of an UN mission.
Ms Van Ardenne says failure to give more financial backing would spell disaster: "I don't think that the AU mission can keep on going without finances and they cannot be transformed for the UN mission if there's not enough funding. So we must ask our colleagues not only for enough budget for the coming two months but also for the period beyond."
Ms Van Ardenne admits the [Darfur peace] deal got off to a bad start but argues that it is still the right instrument to bring about a lasting peace:
"There was maybe a failure on the part of all of us. But if you read the DPA, there's enough there to implement the peace process. So I don't want to mourn the peace process, it's more important to get more people involved. "It can be salvaged, if we bring in everybody," she insisted.
Photo: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, left, welcomes African Union President Alpha Oumar Konare during a Darfur donors conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday July 18, 2006. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed confidence that an international conference Tuesday on Darfur will lead to a stronger African peacekeeping force able to better protect civilians in the Sudanese region from rebels and pro-government militias. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)