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AU summit ends without progress on Darfur

india Updated: Jan 31, 2007 11:22 IST
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The Africa Union summit has ended without reaching a breakthrough in the continent's two most acute crises in Darfur and Somalia.

According to diplomatic sources, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon met with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for 90 minutes to urge him to support a plan to deploy a joint UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping operation to Darfur.

The summit ended on Tuesday.

In a statement released later, Ban said the Sudanese leader had agreed to accelerate the political process and prepare for the peacekeeping deployment.

But Bashir has yet to give his full support to the joint deployment, which was detailed in a letter sent to him by Ban on January 24 containing specifics agreed with the AU.

If finally agreed by Khartoum, thousands of UN-AU troops would be deployed in Darfur.

Ban said, "No more time can be lost. The people in Darfur have waited too long already. That is totally unacceptable."

Chad President Idriss Deby stressed that the situation in Darfur had worsened last year. Chad is now sheltering 230,000 refugees in camps in the border region.

Chad is one of Sudan's sworn enemies and had said it would withdraw from the AU, if Sudan were given the AU chair.

Analysts believe Sudan is trying to prevent the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Darfur for fear UN troops could arrest suspected war criminals.

Sudan considers UN forces an interference in domestic affairs although it has already permitted a UN mission in the south of the country.

Meanwhile, Somalia's president agreed Tuesday to hold a reconciliation conference aimed at restoring political stability to the anarchic country torn apart by clan rivalries.

President Abdullahi Yusuf agreed to hold a conference that, if successful, may draw the once-powerful Islamists into a power-sharing government.

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