Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sudan News Update: Australian Says No to Troops; Bush Tightens Sanctions, etc.

Australian PM says no to more troops for Darfur

Friday Jun 15 09:19 AEST

Prime Minister John Howard says he will not send troops to the troubled Darfur region of Sudan because Australia already has heavy military commitments in other parts of the world.

The United Nations has reportedly asked Australia to contribute military personnel to an international operation to help quell fighting that has killed more than 200,000 and created 2.5 million refugees in Darfur since 2003.

Defence Minister Brendan Nelson rejected the UN request due to the burden of Australia's existing military commitments around the world, The Australian reported.

Mr Howard said the government had not formally discussed the issue but Australia already had heavy military commitments, including the recently announced deployment of an extra 300 troops to Afghanistan.

"We have very heavy commitments in different parts of the world," he told ABC Radio.

"And whilst we haven't formally discussed this matter and made a formal decision, there have been requests I understand made at a military level and there's also reports of requests emanating from the United Nations."

The government would need to pull defence force personnel out of other parts of the world if it decided to take part in a new international force in Darfur, Mr Howard said.

"We do have a limited number of ADF personnel, namely 15 in Darfur," he said.

"It's very fair to say that we are very heavily committed at the present time and in order to meet a commitment, a sizeable commitment in Darfur, we would have to pull forces out of other parts of the world to send them there.

"And we have commitments there; once you make commitments, you have obligations not to arbitrarily terminate them."

News Article by JIG posted on June 14, 2007 at 18:10:16: EST (-5 GMT)

UN seeks troop contributions for Sudan force

Jane's Information Group
Thalif Deen

The UN has appealed to member states to provide troops for a joint UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force after Sudan agreed to the deployment in the Darfur region.

China, Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan have offered troops for a proposed 17,000- to 20,000-strong contingent. The two non-African nations have volunteered to provide engineering companies.

Although Sudan has sanctioned a hybrid force after several months of resistance, the government in Khartoum has also stated that all or most of the troops should be from African nations.

A 7,000-strong AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) has been in Darfur since 2004 and will eventually become part of the new UN-AU peacekeeping force.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed reservations about the conditions laid down by Sudan.

"If this is an unconditional acceptance, it would be a positive step that we would welcome," he said. "But if it is conditional, as we heard, that there will be only African troops involved and no non-Africans, that is putting a condition that would be unacceptable."

The UN and AU have outlined two options: under one plan there would be 19,555 troops and under the other 17,605 troops. The police component would require 3,772 officers.

The hybrid operation is described as the third phase of a three-step process to replace the existing but under-resourced AU AMIS force.

UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters on 12 June that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is looking forward to expeditiously implementing the hybrid force.

Asked whether Sudan's acceptance was unconditional, Montas said the government has already called for African troops, but that the UN had always planned to deploy a large number of African troops to the region, depending on availability.

She also said that some matters relating to land, water and the deployment still needed to be hammered out with the Sudanese government.

The UN spokesperson said the agreement was reached during two days of high-level technical consultations between the UN, the AU and the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 June.

According to UN figures, more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million others displaced from their homes since clashes erupted in 2003 between government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups.

China Welcomes Darfur Agreement

Thursday, June 14, 2007 7:41 PM

BEIJING-China, one of Sudan's biggest backers, has welcomed its acceptance of a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force for the country's troubled Darfur region.

A Sudanese diplomat in Ethiopia confirmed on Wednesday that Sudan has accepted the mission after receiving assurances that a "hybrid" AU-U.N. force of 17,000 to 19,000 troops will not be open-ended and Sudan will remain in control of its borders.

"China welcomes the deployment of a hybrid AU-UN force in Darfur and the joint statement," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site late Wednesday.

"The facts have shown that dialogue and equal negotiation is an effective approach to political solution of the Darfur issue, and the consultation between AU, UN and Sudan is an effective mechanism," Qin said.

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports, sells the African country weapons and military aircraft, and has blocked efforts to send U.N. peacekeeping forces to Darfur without Sudanese consent.

But its involvement in Sudan is becoming a liability as the country tries to portray itself as a responsible power while welcoming the world to the 2008 Olympics, a massive source of national pride.

In what appeared to be a response to international pressure, China recently appointed a special representative for Africa to focus on Darfur, and has publicly urged Khartoum to give the U.N. a greater role in trying to resolve the conflict.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when local rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government, accusing it of decades of neglect. Sudanese leaders are accused of unleashing the pro-government Arab militia, the janjaweed, to fight them, a charge they deny.

Westerners have been skeptical about any commitment from Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir because he has repeatedly backtracked on promises to move forward on Darfur.

News Article by XINHUA posted on June 13, 2007 at 22:50:47: EST (-5 GMT)

U.S. tightens sanctions against Sudan despite agreement, Bush says

Washington D.C.(XINHUA) -- U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that his government is beefing up its sanctions against Sudan although Khartoum has agreed to a joint African Union-UN force to end bloodshed in Darfur.

"The Department of Treasury is tightening existing economic sanctions against Sudan, and we're imposing additional ones," Bush said by satellite to the U.S. Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.

In addition, Bush said, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "is working with our allies to draft a new UN Security Council resolution that will seek to impose new sanctions, expand an arms embargo, and prohibit Sudan's government from conducting offensive military flights over Darfur."

Bush made the remarks after Sudan, the African Union, the United Nations issued a joint statement Tuesday, saying Sudan had accepted the deployment of the hybrid AU-UN force for Darfur.

The AU, the United Nations and Sudanese officials started a closed-door consultative meeting in Addis Ababa Monday to discuss the deployment of a hybrid force of between 17,000 to 19,000 troops in Darfur.

News Article by KUNA posted on June 14, 2007 at 15:18:24: EST (-5 GMT)

France evasive on US plan for sanctions against Sudan

PARIS, June 14 (KUNA) -- France on Thursday declined to comment reports that the United States was preparing a new UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Sudan, noting that there has been "important progress" made through the signature of the Addis Abeba accords on a UN-African Union deployment in Darfur.

The US is said to be preparing a draft text for sanctions against Khartoum, despite the agreement of the Sudanese government to accept a reinforced deployment of international peacekeepers to protect civilians and aid workers in the troubled Darfur area.

"The agreement given by Khartoum concerning a hybrid operation by the AU and the UN is important progress towards the reinforcement of the international presence in Darfur," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said in answer to a KUNA question.

He remarked that this represented a "positive dynamic that the international community must take into account and must encourage".

Khartoum said two days ago that it would accept between 17,000 and 19,000 AU-UN troops in Darfur, close to the level demanded by the UN Security Council, which called for 20,000 troops and 5,000 policemen to be deployed in the area.

The agreed deployment could take several months to be completed.

France said that the priority now is to implement the agreement between the African Union, the United Nations and the Sudanese government.

The French official also stressed the need to restart the political process and negotiations between the parties within the framework of a "Road Map" and co-mediation by the UN and the African Union and also to map out the perspectives of a development plan for the neighbouring regions affected by the Darfur crisis, notably Chad and the Central African Republic, both of which are close to France.

With these factors in mind, France is organizing a Ministerial-level meeting of the "Contact Group" on Sudan in Paris on June 25 and is also inviting a number of non-Contact group countries like China, Egypt, South Africa and Ghana, which has the AU Presidency.

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