A United Nations high-level meeting on issues of Darfur, Sudan, was held here Friday with the participants urging all parties concerned to prepare for negotiations due to begin on Oct. 27 in Libya.
"The parties should seize this unique opportunity to resolve the conflict," said a joint press communique issued by the United Nations and the African Union (AU).
Representatives from 26 countries, the European Union and the League of Arab States participated in the second UN high-level consultation which was co-chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konar.
The one-day meeting was designed to mobilize international support behind peace talks next month that will try to end the conflict in the Darfur region.
The meeting is also aimed at boosting support for the establishment of the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur (to be known as UNAMID) and for the humanitarian operations on the ground in the arid and impoverished region.
Participants of the meeting confirmed their support for the talks and expressed strong expectations that the forthcoming negotiations would be "inclusive and decisive."
Ban also announced the creation of a Trust Fund to provide financial support for the talks.
In its joint communique, the United Nations and African Union, expressed concern about the level of violence, the continuing fragmentation of the non-signatory movements, and the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region.
They called on all parties to exercise full restraint, abide by previous commitments, and cease all hostilities in the lead up to political negotiations.
On peacekeeping, the United Nations and African Union called for support from the international community to ensure the deployment of a peacekeeping force in the Darfur region.
The two organizations also emphasized the critical importance of receiving sustained support from the Sudanese government on operational issues.
At full deployment, the UNAMID will have some 26,000 troops and police officers, making it the largest peacekeeping operation in the world.
Representatives of the Sudanese government and Darfur's rebel groups are due to have talks in Libya on Oct. 27.
The scheduled Tripoli talks will be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and African Union envoys for Darfur,Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim.
It is expected to focus on broadening the Darfur Peace agreement signed in May 2006 to include those rebel groups which did not sign it.
Ban, who visited the Darfur region in early September, has warned that only a comprehensive solution that deals with all the issues from politics and security to economic development and the environment will solve the conflict in Darfur.
The UN chief also stressed that the peace talks in Libya next month must serve as a "final phase for a final settlement."
(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2007)