Saturday, October 21, 2006

UK's Blair appeals for Darfur deal

Oct 20 2006
The prime minister has pressed EU colleagues to put on a united front in calling for a peace agreement in Darfur.

Tony Blair was on Friday addressing the EU summit in Lahti on the subject at short notice after making a request to the Finnish presidency.

Downing Street said Blair made the move because "he believes we are at a critical time" in international efforts to stop the violence in Sudan.

The appeal came as African Union ministers were meeting the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

"We need to send a clear message of support from the EU today," the prime minister's official spokesman said.

Blair was setting out a three-pronged strategy for a lasting peace.

Firstly to stop military action immediately, secondly to allow a UN force in and thirdly for the Sudanese government to engage in peace talks.

"We have tried to do this with the Sudanese government," the spokesman said.

"If that does not prove possible we are going to have to use pressure.

"That is not our preferred strategy... but the situation in Sudan is just not sustainable."

The government also dismissed a suggestion that more African Union troops could be deployed instead of the UN force Sudan is resisting.

The spokesman said the AU had "valiantly tried" to stop the violence but "hasn't been able to be as effective as it should be".

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