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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 03:23 GMT 04:23 UK
Arab League backs Sudan on Darfur
Refugees from Darfur pump water across the border in Chad
The UN says Darfur is the world's worst humanitarian crisis
The Arab League has rejected any sanctions or international military intervention as a response to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.

Arab foreign ministers at an emergency session in Cairo backed Khartoum's measures to disarm Arab militias and punish human rights violators.

They called on the UN to give Sudan more time to resolve the conflict.

And Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha said he thought the UN's end of August deadline was impractical.

He told the BBC's Hard Talk programme that Khartoum was committed to disarming all militia forces in Darfur.

He said 6,000 Sudanese police and government troops were currently in Darfur, and there were plans to expand the force to 12,000.

"We are really committed to disarm whoever is acting outside the law," he said, adding that comprehensive stability was only possible if both the Arab Janjaweed militia and rebel groups disarmed.

But he added that logistical problems were hampering deployment, which meant that fully disarming the Arab Janjaweed militia, and other forces, by the end of August would not be possible.

"We cannot have comprehensive stability without disarming both sides."

No surprises

On 30 July, a UN resolution gave Sudan 30 days to bring Arab militia under control or face international action.

About one million people have fled their homes in a crisis exacerbated by the pro-government Janjaweed militia.

1m displaced
Up to 50,000 killed
More at risk from disease and starvation
Arab militias accused of ethnic cleansing
Sudan blames rebels for starting conflict

Foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League attended the meeting, which was chaired by the group's Secretary General Amr Moussa.

Mr Moussa said before the talks that the group was inclined towards helping Sudan avoid sanctions.

The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi in Cairo said there were no surprises in the Arab League statement and Khartoum got what it wanted.

The statement welcomed measures already taken by the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed and bring those responsible for human rights violations in Darfur to justice.

The Arab foreign ministers also pledged to assist Sudan and the international community in resolving the conflict peacefully.

Our correspondent says the statement was very much in line with a report by an Arab League fact-finding mission to Darfur earlier this year, which largely exonerated the Sudanese government from responsibility and laid the blame on a combination of factors, including protracted drought, tribal conflict and under-development in western Sudan.

Peace talks

Top officials from the UN and African Union were also meeting on the sidelines of the talks.

UN aid officials in Darfur have warned of severe outbreaks of disease in refugee camps for displaced people.

On Saturday, the African Union announced that Sudan's government would try to resume peace talks with two rebel groups in the Nigerian capital Abuja later in August.

Khatoum has denied it supports the militia and has angrily rejected the threat of foreign intervention, trying to draw parallels with the invasion of Iraq which was opposed by many Arab countries.

Human Rights Watch has demanded the Arab League "stand behind the victims" in Darfur.

Its Africa division chief Peter Takirambudde accused Sudan of "trying to manipulate opinion in the Arab world to hide the massive crimes it has committed against Sudanese citizens".

The BBC's David Chazan
"The Arab League... wants the Sudanese government to be given more time to act"

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