Today's Reuters report
by Opheera McDoom - excerpt:
Richardson said that while no agreement had been reached yet to let in U.N. fighting troops, Bashir was not as hardline in the latest discussions as he had been last year.
"I note flexibility in his position," he said. "When I first was here five months ago he was dead set against any U.N. troops. Now there's some flexibility as ... there are technical U.N. blue-helmeted troops that will be permitted." "Not fighting troops ... but it is progress," he said.
Bashir wrote to former U.N. chief Kofi Annan in December saying he had agreed to a 'hybrid operation' in Darfur, softening his position and allowing U.N. personnel to support the AU mission.
Richardson said details of a "third phase" of that hybrid operation were still unclear. Annan described it as a hybrid AU-U.N. force deploying up to 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers, but Khartoum insists it is just giving stronger support to the AU.
"Phase three is something that is still being negotiated or there are still details to be worked out," Richardson said. But the political process to maintain a ceasefire is more important, he added. "You can't keep a peace without a peace."