Thursday, December 14, 2006

U.S. envoy to fly from Sudan to Brussels after getting OK for forerunners of Darfur force

Dec 14 2006 AP report via International Herald Tribune - excerpt:
[US special envoy to Sudan] Andrew Natsios scrubbed planned visits to Chad, the country just west of Darfur where violence has migrated back and forth from Sudan, and London after he met for two hours with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday at the end of a four-day visit to Sudan.

During the discussions, al-Bashir told Natsios for the first time that Sudan would provide visas for UN logistical experts to join the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, McCormack said.

"The Sudanese have previously agreed to these individuals coming in as part of the first step in the deployment of a force, but they had not yet issued the visas for them to come in," McCormack said. "That hurdle had been cleared."

Ali Karti, the Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs, said in Khartoum that al-Bashir had agreed to "technical assistance" for the AU troops.

The U.N. mission in Sudan said it was ready to send 105 military advisers, 33 police officers and 48 civilian staff.

An African Union spokesman, Noureddine Mezni, said the overextended and insufficiently armed AU troops need help urgently, "both financially and in personnel."

McCormack said Natsios would arrive in Brussels on Friday and would meet with technical experts from the European Union as well as Solana and de Hoop Scheffer.

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