Friday, April 29, 2005

NATO's role in Darfur - AU commission chairman will visit NATO headquarters May 17

Talks with the African Union on a Nato role are expected to start "very, very quickly" a Nato spokesman said, ahead of an expected May 17 visit by Konare to Nato headquarters in Brussels.

An internal assessment obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said it may need to increase the force to 12,300 to restore order.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist welcomed the African Union's request for Nato assistance, saying "I'm ... hopeful that a partnership between Nato and the AU will help bring stability and restore order to this troubled region."

Nato officials have suggested alliance help could include transport, communications and planning for an expanded military mission.

However, France has been wary about Nato involvement in Africa, concerned that Paris' traditional influence on the continent could be undermined.

Nato officials said France went along with the decision to open talks with the African Union, but stressed the alliance would remain in close touch with the European Union and the United Nations in mapping out international help for the African peacekeepers.

The European Union has sent military advisers to help the peacekeeping mission and is spending 120 million US dollars to cover almost half the costs of the operation.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged Nato and the EU to do more to back African efforts to end the violence in Darfur.

See full report by AP Writer Paul Ames at Newsday.
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NATO to provide support in Darfur mission

Nato, the alliance created in the cold war to protect western Europe from the Soviet Union, is set to go to Africa to provide logistical help for Darfur.

See full report by Daniel Dombey in Brussels, April 28 2005 -
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NATO poised for first African engagement in Darfur

One French idea for Darfur was that its logistical support and air surveillance operation, based in Chad, might be turned into an EU military mission. That prospect seems less likely following April 27 written request to Nato from Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the AU Commission, who is expected to visit the alliance's Brussels headquarters next month.

James Appathurai, Nato's chief spokesman, said: "What has to be decided is what the AU needs and what is already provided and whether Nato can add value. But certainly this is the first time Nato would be engaged in any significant way in sub-Saharan Africa."

The Sudanese government insists only African troops can be involved in intervention and other Nato and EU diplomats are frustrated by the limited progress made by the AU. "It is a question of choosing the most appropriate organisation for the operation," one official said.

See full report by Stephen Castle in Brussels, 28 April 2005, Independent UK.


Photo: The AU commission chairman will visit Nato headquarters May 17, 2005 - via Aljazeera.
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Analysis: NATO's role in Darfur

Nato officials will be engaged in intensive discussions during the next few weeks following a formal invitation from the African Union (AU) for military help in Darfur.

Please read analysis by David Loyn, Developing World Correspondent, BBC News, April 29, 2005.
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Top European Union official to meet President Mbeki

Good news. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is on his way to South Africa to boost the EU's "strategic partnership" with Pretoria before heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo, his office said in a statement.

Mr Solana is flying to Pretoria today for talks with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. AFP report via monuc April 28 says Solana is to speak with South African President Thabo Mbeki about various African issues including the Sudan, the statement said.

The aim of the talks was to "reinforce the dialogue and strategic partnership" between the EU and South Africa.

EU development commissioner Louis Michel is to accompany Solana to Kinshasa.

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