Saturday, November 20, 2004

Bashir assured Annan at meeting today: Khartoum hopes to finish Darfur talks by end of year

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, left, holds hands with Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang, right, Friday, November 19, 2004 during the U.N Security Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP).


Quotes of the day

British charity Oxfam led the protests, dismissing the council's visit to Africa as little more than a jaunt.

"From New York to Nairobi a trail of weak resolutions on Darfur has led nowhere," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's regional director. "Travel agents will have more to show from this meeting than the people of Darfur."

That drew indignant responses from both Britain and the United States, who both insist that they will push for sanctions if Khartoum fails to rein in the attacks on civilians by Janjaweed, or continues to hamper the delivery of emergency relief.

"We came here not for a ceremony, not for a photo op, but for results," said John Danforth, the US representative to the UN. "I want to be very clear. The violence and atrocities being perpetrated in Darfur must end now."

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the British ambassador, was even more blunt. "We repeat the message that we will come after you if you don't comply," he said.

"The violence and atrocities being perpetrated must end now," the US ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, told Mr Taha and Mr Garang at the meeting. "You have heard this message clearly from the security council - heed it."

"The attacks and atrocities have got to stop now," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement following the adoption of Resolution 1574 by the UN Security Council at a special session in Nairobi.

"We are keen, we are fully committed, to give the people of Sudan and to give Africa and the whole international community the gift of an agreement for the end of the year," Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha told the Security Council.

John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the biggest southern rebel group, welcomed a resolution the council passed Friday demanding that the two sides sign a final agreement by Dec. 31. "We will do our best to fulfill our commitment," he said.

"With a bit of luck, and with the spirit that has been generated ... we might even be able and conclude with Darfur at the same time we will conclude in south Sudan. It's not impossible," Obasanjo told a news conference today.

Annan, speaking at a Tanzania summit on Africa's troubled Great Lakes region on Saturday, said he met Sudan's President and been assured Khartoum now hopes to speed the pace of talks on Darfur to finish them by the end of the year.

Rebel leader John Garang promised southern Sudanese good news for Christmas - sentiments remarkably similar to those made a year ago in front of former United States secretary of state Colin Powell.

While both sides have agreed on the wording of a peace deal, a final accord formally ending the war has been delayed three times.

United Nations officials hope the promise to reach an accord by year's end also will help quell a separate ethnic conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, but they warned against unwarranted optimism.

"We are very close to peace, but we have been close before," said John Danforth, who was Washington's special envoy to Sudan before becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"Russia has been a consistent supporter of intra-Sudanese settlement all along, given the need to bring the situation in the country back to normal, to ensure national reconciliation while at the same time preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sudan, with whom Russia has traditionally been maintaining friendly relations," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.
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Declaration on the conclusion of IGAD negotiations on peace in the Sudan


Video of Security Council meeting [2hrs 34mins]

Sudanese parties sign peace pledge in Nairobi
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Darfur talks to resume in Abuja next month

The Sudan government and Darfur rebel groups will resume their peace talks in Nigeria's capital Abuja next month, AFrican Union (AU) Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also president of Nigeria, said here Saturday.

The talks will resume on December 9, one month after both sides signed two protocols on security and humanitarian aid, Obasanjo told a press conference today.
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One can only hope the word "February" is a typo by Reuters when they say (btw this particular story was published several weeks ago), "the full AU force of 3,320 personnel, including 2,341 troops and 815 civilian police from various African countries, completes its deployment by February."

The German government said it would pledge around 200 soldiers plus air transport capabilities to the African Union's mission in charge of monitoring peace efforts in Sudan.

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