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Sudan Reiterates Refusal of Int'l Force in Darfur
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Sudan reiterated on Monday its refusal of deploying international peacekeepers in the country's restive western region of Darfur ahead of a summit of the African Union (AU) on this issue.

"We stress again that the international force will not be sent to Darfur without a national decision to be made by Sudan," Sudanese Vice President Ali Othman Mohammed Taha told a press conference in Khartoum on Monday.

Taha's remarks came before an AU summit, which is to be held on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York. Leaders of the 15 member states of the AU Peace and Security Council are to debate at the summit the fate of the 7,800-strongAfrican troops in Darfur, whose mandate will expire on Sept. 30.

In late August, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which calls for the deployment of up to 20,000 UN peacekeepers in Darfur to replace the cash-strapped and ill-equipped AU troops. However, the Sudanese leaders rejected the resolution and equated the deployment of UN forces in Darfur to a war on his country.

"We know that the United States has taken measures against us, but the United Nations will not launch a war on us as long as we are a member of the international organization," Taha said.

He said that the Sudanese government was not against cooperation with the international society, but underlined that the cooperation must be within the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

Terming the AU's peacekeeping mission in Darfur as the pan-African body's first test to strengthen the security inside the continent, Taha called on the African leaders to hold their responsibilities to prove the African body's ability in dealing with its own problems.
Meanwhile, the vice president denied that the situations in Darfur were deteriorating in the past, instead, he asserted that a deployment of the international force in the region would lead to a "disaster" and change the region into a "new Iraq."

(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2006)

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