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UN Security Council Welcomes Draft Accord on Joint Force in Darfur
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The United Nations Security Council on Friday welcomed a draft agreement between the UN and the African Union (AU) on proposed UN-AU joint peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan.

The Security Council, in a presidential statement, called for "the full implementation without delay" of the UN light and heavy support packages, demanding that "all parties meet their international obligations, support the political process, end violence against civilians and attacks on peacekeepers, and facilitate humanitarian relief."

The draft "contains recommendations regarding a mandate and a structure for the Hybrid Operation, details on the various components of the proposed operation and their specific tasks, and a description of the ongoing efforts of the international community to support the peace process in Darfur and to strengthen the African Union Mission in the Sudan," said the statement, which was read by US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the Security Council's President for May.

The UN Security Council described the agreement as "an important development in the comprehensive approach to the peace process in Darfur," noting that the draft agreement also includes re-energizing the political process, strengthening the ceasefire, and implementing the three-phase approach to peacekeeping.

The AU, the United Nations and the Sudanese government agreed last November on a three-phase support plan, also known as the Annan plan as it was put forward by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

With the first phase of the plan, also known as a light support package, already underway, Sudan announced on April 16 that it approved the inauguration of the second phase, also known as "the heavy support phase."

The second phase involves the deployment of 3,000 UN troops and six attack helicopters in Darfur to support the 7,800-strong African force, as well as preparation for the next phase, in which a much larger UN force would be sent to the region.

(Xinhua News Agency May 26, 2007)

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