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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK
Sudan warns against intervention
Refugees in northern Darfur
Aid supplies are running low, aid workers say
Sudanese soldiers will fight back if foreign troops are sent to end the conflict in the Darfur region, the country's foreign minister has warned.

"If we are attacked, we will not sit silent," Mustafa Osman Ismail said during a visit to Turkey.

Sudan is under heavy international pressure to rein in pro-government Arab militias blamed for killings and rape.

The UK has hinted at a possible armed intervention and the UN is discussing imposing sanctions on the militias.

But US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday it was premature to speak of military intervention in Darfur.

"Some nations have gone farther and started to talk about other action of a military nature, but I think that's premature," he said en route to Cairo.

More than a million people have fled their homes in Darfur and up to 50,000 have died.

If we are attacked... we will retaliate
Mustafa Osman Ismail
Sudanese Foreign Minister
Aid agencies warn that thousands more could die in refugee camps from disease and starvation unless help arrives immediately.

Sudan summoned senior UK and German diplomats on Tuesday to protest after the EU pushed for sanctions over the Darfur conflict.

An emergency meeting of the Cabinet later said Sudan "is capable of solving its conflicts by itself".

The pro-government militias - or Janjaweed - are accused of ethnic cleansing against the black African population.

The Sudanese government denies backing the militiamen. In early July it promised to disarm them.

Peace hopes

"If we are attacked... we will retaliate," Mr Ismail told a news conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

"We definitely hope we do not reach that situation," he said.

DARFUR CONFLICT
map
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

"We are not looking for confrontation and we hope we will not be pushed to that."

Mr Ismail also said Khartoum was disarming the Janjaweed militias - but said this could not be completed unless local militias opposing them also surrendered their weapons.

Sudan is lobbying to block the proposed UN sanctions - contained in a US draft resolution being discussed in a closed Security Council session this week.

China, Pakistan and Algeria are said to oppose immediate sanctions, but US diplomats say they are confident that a majority of UN Security Council members back their draft.

There is also some opposition to US efforts to push for the Council to vote on the issue this week.

The Arab League has told the UN Security Council to "avoid precipitate action" and give Sudan enough time to honour its pledges.

Aid efforts

African leaders are set to seek an "African solution" to Darfur at a special summit in Ghana on Thursday, called by the African Union (AU) chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.

The AU has previously said it would deploy 300 troops to Darfur by the end of July.

A Rwandan military official said 150 Rwandan troops would leave for Darfur in early August, but their rules of engagement had still not been finalised, the AFP news agency reports.

Darfur refugee crying

The EU has agreed to send extra funds worth more than $30m to ease the humanitarian crisis.

In neighbouring Chad, aid workers are continuing efforts to distribute supplies in two camps where operations were suspended for several days last week because of violence.

Relief agencies say more international help is required. France, which has an air base in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, is coming under pressure to do more.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is currently heading for Darfur, via a stop in Chad.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Susannah Price
"Calls for urgent action in Darfur continue to grow"



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