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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007, 02:32 GMT
UN in new peace drive for Darfur
Darfur refugees
More than two million people have been displaced by the conflict
The United Nations and African Union have announced a new drive for peace in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur.

Jan Eliasson, the UN special envoy to Darfur, is to travel to the region to try to stop fighting between rebel groups and the Sudanese government.

The UN wants to strengthen peacekeeping troops but there is conflict with Sudan over the number of UN soldiers to be deployed there.

At least 200,000 people have died in Darfur in the past four years.

A peace agreement was signed last May between the government and one leading rebel group but violence has continued, with rival rebels refusing to sign.

'Hand-in-hand'

Mr Eliasson will consult African Union officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, before meeting the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

Map
There can be no military solution to the crisis in Darfur
Salim Ahmed Salim,
African Union
Mr Eliasson and AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim said they wanted to "re-energise the political process".

Mr Salim said: "There can be no military solution to the crisis in Darfur."

Mr Eliasson said: "We want to work hand-in-hand in diplomacy and in trying to find a road to a political process."

New UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to pay the highest attention to the conflict in Darfur.

The UN has a three-part plan to strengthen the current 7,000-strong African Union force with UN troops.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has consistently opposed any large UN deployment although he has indicated he wants to support the UN's plans.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 after a rebel group began attacking government targets, saying the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

The rebels say the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

Arab militias responded to try to put down the uprising. The government denies accusations from the rebels it is backing the militias.


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