U.N. Envoy Says Rebels Want To Negotiate End To Darfur Crisis

Monday, April 23rd 2007, 7:19 am
By: News On 6

LUXEMBOURG (AP) _ The United Nations' special envoy for Darfur said Monday that both the Sudanese government and rebel forces wanted to find a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Darfur.

Jan Eliason held talks with European Union foreign ministers and said the international community ``was happy'' with a decision by Khartoum to accept more peacekeepers to assist the 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur.

He said talks with the Sudanese government and rebels were making progress, and that both sides had agreed to find a peaceful end to the conflict there.

``They consider a military solution not possible,'' Eliason told reporters. ``There is only one way to go and that is a political process,'' Eliason said. ``What we hope to see is movement in a direction of a political solution.''

He appealed to the 27 EU nations to offer more aid and other practical support to the AU peacekeeping force in Darfur.

EU foreign ministers are to look at further financing the peacekeeping force in Darfur on top of the $544 million it has provided so far.

They also planned to debate whether to support calls for new economic and military sanctions on Sudan.

Over the weekend, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on U.N. Security Council members to give diplomacy more time before considering more sanctions.

Sudan was expected to decide Monday whether to allow the deployment of the U.N.'s so-called ``heavy support package'' to assist the current AU force in Darfur.

The United States and Britain have been pressing for new sanctions against Khartoum in protest over continued fighting and killing of civilians in Darfur.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.5 million driven from their homes since fighting began between ethnically African rebels and the Arab-dominated central government in 2003.