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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
France pushes Darfur aid corridor
Darfur refugee (file pic)
About two million people have fled their homes in the Darfur conflict
France is pushing at the G8 summit in Germany for an aid corridor from Chad into Sudan's war-torn Darfur region as a humanitarian solution to the crisis.

Correspondents say other proposals to be considered when Darfur is discussed may be a no-fly zone and expanding UN sanctions - backed by the US and UK.

The French foreign minister is due to go to Africa this week to seek more regional support for the French plan.

Chad and Sudan are known to be hostile to the corridor and a Western presence.

More than 200,000 people died in the four-year conflict and some 2m are in camps after fleeing their homes.

US President George Bush is expected to call on G8 leaders to step pressure on Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers.

"I'm frustrated because there are still people suffering and the UN process is moving at a snail's pace,"AP news agency quotes him as saying.

Last week, the US tightened targeted sanctions against Khartoum.

Critical

The BBC's Catherine Zemmouri in Paris says France also wants to create a contact group on Darfur.

President John Kufuor
Problems that have been there for perhaps decades cannot be expected to be solved just in a 30-minute meeting between two presidents
Ghana's President John Kufuor

It would include the UN, AU, Sudan, Chad, other African heads of state and China.

Paris hopes to have its plans in place by the end of June, she says.

France already has 1,000 troops posted in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, which could be deployed for the aid corridor.

But it would also like European Union troops involved, similar to the French-led operation to Ituri in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003 to end ethnic clashes.

French President Nicolas Sarkosy met his Ghanaian counterpart, John Kufuor, who also heads the African Union, ahead of the G8 about the idea

Mr Kufuor said meeting had been forthright.

"Problems that have been there for perhaps decades cannot be expected to be just solved in a 30-minute meeting between two presidents," he told the BBC on Tuesday.

"But the good will and the understanding that has been established within the 30 minutes may help move the solution forward."

Non-governmental organisations, including Medecins sans Frontieres - founded by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, have criticised the idea on the grounds it could create confusion between military and humanitarian action.

But Mr Kouchner hopes to win African backing later this week for the proposals which have so far not been welcomed by the key players.

On Sunday, Chad's foreign minister said no foreign army would be accepted on its soil.

But on Tuesday night, the communications minister was more conciliatory, suggesting Chad would be keen to look into the conditions of the deployment.

'Change can happen'

The UN Security Council has endorsed proposals to let a combined UN-African Union peacekeeping force protect civilians and use force to prevent violence in Darfur.

map

Sudan denies supporting armed groups and says the suffering in Darfur has been exaggerated for political reasons.

UK Prime Minster Tony Blair said the G8 needed to address three things on Darfur.

"The fact is we need to make it clear to the government of Sudan they have to act; we need to bring in the rebel groups that are still holding back from the peace accords and we need in particular to fund and put in place the right African force and UN force that will keep the peace," he told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the European parliament to impose sanctions on Sudan for refusing to allow the UN deployment.

The South African archbishop said the international community should focus on disarming the Arab Janjaweed militia, allowing humanitarian aid in and giving the peacekeeping forces access to the area.

"We had an intractable situation in South Africa. People believed that only a blood bath would resolve our situation," he said on Tuesday.

"It never happened. Let us not give up on the fact that change can happen in Khartoum."




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