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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 15:02 GMT
Sudan accepts UN 'help' in Darfur
African Union peacekeeper in Darfur
The AU peacekeepers are badly over-stretched
Sudan says it welcomes the United Nations' support for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur but denies the UN will take command.

Sudan has always rejected plans to replace the AU force with a larger, stronger UN mission.

On Thursday, UN chief Kofi Annan had said a compromise had been reached for a hybrid UN-AU force, to break the deadlock over the Darfur mission.

More than 200,000 people have died in three years of conflict in the region.

About three million have fled their homes.

President Omar al-Bashir told state TV: "The government of Sudan welcomes all financial, material, logistic or technical assistance from the UN in order to strengthen the AU mission in Darfur."

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His Foreign Minister Lam Akol specified that "there should be no talk about a mixed force".

He told the BBC there would be no UN troops.

Following a meeting on Darfur in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Mr Annan had said: "The troops should be sourced from Africa as far as possible and the command and control structure would be provided by the UN."

Violence has intensified despite a peace deal in May between the government and one of the Darfur rebel groups.

Meanwhile, Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein said Darfur would become an "invaders' graveyard" if a UN peacekeeping force was sent there.

UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has cut short his trip to Darfur after Sudan's government told him it would be too dangerous for him to travel outside the region's major towns.

Violence spreads

A further possible area of disagreement on the peacekeeping mission is the size of the new force.

The UN also wants a force of 17,000 troops, while Sudan says 12,000 would be enough.

A mother attends a clinic in the north Darfur town of Mellit, Sudan
The conflict has killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of people
There are currently some 7,000 AU troops in Darfur.

Sudan has always said that the problems in Darfur are being exaggerated for political reasons.

It denies backing the Arab Janjaweed militias, accused of genocide against Darfur's black African population.

Sudan says the militias are being disarmed but reports from Darfur say the army is working with the Janjaweed to destroy villages.

Two of Sudan's neighbours, Chad and the Central African Republic, have accused Sudan of backing rebels in their countries.

Chad says it is sending troops to help CAR.


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