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African Leaders Call for Peaceful Solution to Darfur Issue
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African leaders of the Sahel and Sahara Group on Sunday expressed their hope to find a peaceful solution to Sudan's Darfur issue in Libya's central Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte, saying outside intervention could only complicate the situation in Darfur. 

Leaders of the 25-member group made the call in a statement following the conclusion of a summit meeting held here.

Sudan has been under mounting pressures, particularly from the United States, on the Darfur issue.

The United States announced on Tuesday that the US Treasury Department would step up efforts to squeeze the Sudanese economy by targeting government-run ventures involved with its booming oil business, which does many of its transactions in US dollars.

Washington will also seek new UN Security Council sanctions against Khartoum, as well as a provision preventing the Sudanese government from conducting military flights in Darfur.

The African leaders also called on rebel factions that have rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement to participate in the Darfur peace process as soon as possible.

The Darfur Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudanese government and a main rebel faction in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in May last year.

Meanwhile, Khartoum has accepted the first two phases of a UN peacekeeping plan for Darfur but stalled the third phase of the plan to create a much larger UN-AU hybrid force.

The third package, which is also called "the hybrid operation," is the final step of a UN-AU plan of deploying their joint peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Established in 1998, the Sahel and Sahara Group is Africa's largest political, economic, culture and security union with 25 members as Comoros and Guinea have just joined it.

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2007)

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