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Annan Continues Pressing Deployment of UN Force in Darfur
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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in Banjul on Sunday that he would continue to press the eventual deployment of UN peacekeeping force in Sudan's west Darfur region.


After meeting with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir on the sidelines of the seventh AU summit, Annan said at a press conference that they "agreed the immediate need to strengthen the African Union mission in Darfur and to consolidate the Darfur Peace Agreement."


"I would continue to press the eventual deployment of UN peacekeeping force in Darfur," said Annan.


On this point, Annan added, "we agreed that dialogue has to continue."


Annan said that President Bashir would prepare a plan for the next six months which would be submitted to him by the end of this month.


Both the UN and the AU hope to persuade the Sudanese government to allow a UN force to take over peacekeeping duties from an under-resourced AU force in the Darfur region, where conflict began in 2003 when non-Arab tribes rebelled, accusing the Khartoum government of neglect.


However the Sudanese government has issued a series of uncompromising rejections of international troops.


On May 5 the Sudanese government and one Darfur rebel group signed a peace agreement, but the agreement has been undermined by the rejection of two other rebel groups.


Annan said that he and Bashir have agreed that those parties who have not yet signed must "come on board" and those who have signed must "effectively" implement the agreement.


A pledging conference will be held in Brussels on July 18, to bring additional logistic support to AU forces for them to continue their work effectively and to hold the ground until such a time the UN force is deployed, according to Annan.


(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2006)

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